Leeds United’s Tyler Roberts Having to Bide his Time with Wales at Euro 2020
Leeds United’s promising forward Tyler Roberts cut a somewhat disappointed figure throughout Wales’ Euro 2020 group stage, after failing to get any game time against Italy, Turkey or Switzerland. Roberts appeared in Wales’ final pre-tournament friendly with Albania, but the closest he’s got so far to an appearance is a bench place against a much-changed Italy side that had already qualified. Roberto Mancini’s Italy are now red-hot favourites for Euro 2020 outright, after sailing through the group with a 100% record. They have moved into joint-second contenders in the outright betting. The Azzurri are available at a best price of 6/1 with bet365, which currently boasts one of the leading Euro 2020 promotions for new customers, offering up to £100 in free bet credits on this summer’s long-awaited tournament.
Despite the dominance of Italy in their group, Roberts and Wales managed to secure a passage into the knockout stages, thanks to a brave win over Turkey and a battling draw with Switzerland. So far, Wales’ temporary head coach Robert Page has preferred Dan James and Gareth Bale in the forward areas, with Roberts unable to add to his 14 senior caps so far.
Roberts pushing hard for Euro 2020 minutes from the bench
It’s taken some time, but Roberts is starting to be considered as an out-and-out forward, having spent time playing out wide and as a number ten in his three seasons at Leeds. After James and Bale, Roberts may well be considered Wales’ third-choice front line option at this summer’s finals. Playing alongside the likes of world-class stars like Bale and Aaron Ramsay will no doubt stand Roberts in good stead for the years ahead at Elland Road, after agreeing a new long-term contract whilst away in Wales’ Euro 2020 camp.
It was a richly deserved three-year deal for Roberts, who played his part in helping Marcelo Bielsa’s men to a ninth-place finish in the 2020/21 Premier League season. Roberts still had a year remaining on his previous contract, but Bielsa and the club’s hierarchy were keen to tie the Welshman down to a longer deal. Roberts described his new contract as a “proud moment” and a “great feeling” ahead of Euro 2020. Roberts also notched his first Premier League goal for United in the penultimate game of the season against Southampton, and it’s clear the 22-year-old has now got a taste for hitting the back of the net at the highest level.
Patrick Bamford: The perfect mentor for Tyler Roberts to learn from in front of goal
Roberts said that he would be looking to “kick on” in 2021/22 and work hard on “getting into those [goalscoring] areas”. At club level, Roberts certainly has plenty of good mentors to help him become ever sharper in front of goal. United’s talisman Patrick Bamford is one such inspiration who Roberts believes should have been selected as part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020. Bamford notched 17 Premier League goals, making him the second highest scoring Englishman last season.
Roberts was recently interviewed by the Beautiful Game Podcast, with the Welshman waxing lyrical about Bamford’s penalty box movement. Roberts described the former Chelsea academy graduate as someone that he “has to learn off” given that his penalty box movement is “on point”. Roberts said that Bamford’s ability to “get across defenders” or move “across the front post” has bagged him an additional “five, six, seven goals this season”.
Although Roberts views his long-term position on the football pitch as a number nine, he has been very respectful about the opportunities Bielsa has given him in the number ten role. Roberts has enjoyed the fact that he hasn’t had to “be the one to hold the ball up”, with a licence to roam and drag defenders out of position.
Aside from Patrick Bamford’s movement, there is one other key attribute of his that Roberts is keen to learn from – his finishing. Roberts described him as an “elegant” finisher in front of goal, with the ability to “hit it clean”. He said that Bamford’s finishing has been “A1” ever since his arrival in West Yorkshire in 2018.
Regardless of how far Wales and Roberts go in Euro 2020, Marcelo Bielsa will hope that Roberts can return to Thorp Arch with a spring in his step ahead of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign. Roberts and several other members of United’s first-team squad are likely to return slowly to the Leeds fold after this summer’s championships.
Which other Leeds players are active at Euro 2020?
Kalvin Phillips has become an increasingly important part of the England midfield. In fact, he’s played every minute of England’s group stage games thus far. He turned in a man-of-the-match display in England’s tournament opener against Croatia. Some fear that a midfield containing Phillips and Declan Rice is too similar, but his ball retention and engine will make him a useful component in Gareth Southgate’s plans.
Out-of-contract full back Ezgjan Alioski has impressed at times for North Macedonia, who failed to qualify from their group. The bleach-blonde haired defender demonstrated his dynamism and how fleet-of-foot he is on occasion, but his team-mates were all too often overpowered by their more illustrious opponents.
Skipper Liam Cooper has been a part of Scotland’s squad which is in the same group as England. Cooper played the Tartan Army’s first group game against Czech Republic. Midfielder Mateusz Klich is also at the heartbeat of Poland’s national side, which managed a credible 1-1 draw with Spain thanks to a goal from talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski.
Spanish centre half Diego Llorente made the cut as part of Luis Enrique’s 24-man squad for this summer’s finals. The 27-year-old former Real Madrid and Real Sociedad stopper is likely to play second fiddle to the likes of Eric Garcia and Aymeric Laporte. German midfielder Robin Koch was also named as part of Germany’s 26-man squad, taking part in Euro 2020 which promises to be head coach Joachim Low’s final tournament in charge.
With over half-a-dozen senior players facing prolonged seasons this summer, Bielsa and co. will do all they can to allow them time off after Euro 2020 before they go again in 2021/22.