I remember when I first saw Patrick Roberts. At fifteen, he scored a brace for Fulham’s under 18s against Middlesbrough at Motspur Park. His general play was probably even more impressive than the composure in front of goal. Even by then, the teenager’s talents were far from a secret. He might have been slight but he had pretty much everything. Speed, skill, quick feet and a confidence that the very best players possess. He’d already earned international honours before signing a scholarship at Fulham and the bigger clubs knew all about his talent.

As we all know, Roberts’ career hasn’t followed the path everyone predicted when they watched him completely dominate youth football. Having scored fourteen goals for Fulham’s under 18s – for whom he starred as they reached the FA Youth Cup final – it was no surprise that he was fast tracked into a senior side that were scrambling for salvation at the foot of the Premier League. He was used sparingly by Kit Symons, sometimes infuriatingly so, and decided to move to Manchester City after submitting a transfer request.

With all the speculation surrounding Fabio Carvalho, Roberts is the arguably the cautionary tale to suggest that the big move isn’t always the right one. His talent was never in doubt – and a young footballer can’t be criticised for wanting to secure their financial future. He never looked likely to break through as City went from strength to strength under Pep Guardiola. The closest he came to delivering on all that potential was in a couple of successful loan spells with Celtic, where he won a domestic double, and actually scored against his parent club in the Champions’ League.

Roberts signed for Sunderland on a six-month deal this afternoon having struggled for game time at French side Troyes – during his eighth loan away from Manchester City. I sincerely hope he can rediscover the zest and energy that characterised his football as a carefree youngster, who looked destined for the top. It might be too harsh to suggest that Carvalho should consider Roberts’ career trajectory before he decides on his future, but he may want to reflect upon how pivotal he is to Marco Silva’s plans at present. Regular first team football is vital: giving it up to go elsewhere is a gamble, however talented you are.