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QPR bolster attack on a budget with Roberts loan – Signing
Wednesday, 6th Jul 2022 22:28 by Clive Whittingham

The third signing of the Michael Beale era is a season-long loan deal for Leeds United’s striker Tyler Roberts.

Facts

Twenty-three-year-old Tyler D’Whyte Roberts originally came through the ranks at West Bromwich Albion.

Gloucester-born, Roberts joined the club at just seven and was already on the bench for a Premier League game with Arsenal at the end of the 2014/15 season aged just 16, before he’d signed a first professional contract. That deal was inked that summer and on the final day of 2015/16 he made his senior debut with a 17-minute sub appearance in the Baggies’ 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

Typically, there followed a slew of loan deals. First to League One Oxford United, where he made six starts and scored two goals (at home to Exeter in the FA Trophy and away to non-league Merstham in the FA Cup) but struggled for league action with 14 sub appearances, no starts, and no goals. West Brom recalled him in January 2017 and tried again with a half-season stint at Shrewsbury where he fared slightly better – 11 starts, two sub appearances, and four goals against Bury, Wimbledon, Charlton and Chesterfield in a seven game hot streak.

He stayed closer to home for his 2017/18 spell, joining West Brom’s lower league neighbours Walsall for the first half of the campaign where he got 13 starts, six sub appearances and five goals, including one on his debut in a 3-3 home draw with Bradford in which the Saddlers were at one point 3-0 down. Leeds United had seen enough to move for him on the final day of the January 2018 transfer window, spending a fee of £2.5m that could potentially rise to £4m to bring him to Elland Road. Unfortunately he arrived with a knock, and then cracked his shin in February ending his season early without a further appearance.

Marcelo Bielsa arrived that summer and was a fan. Despite only scoring three goals – two in a 3-0 home win against Preston and one soon after to win a tight game at Hull 1-0 – he started 23 times and jumped off the bench a further eight times. Leeds, infamously, crashed out of the automatic promotion places late in the season and then choked on a play-off semi-final against Derby despite dominating and winning the first leg away from home. The Whites would win promotion in 2019/20, a season that started with knee surgery for Roberts but ended with similar stats – 12 starts, 11 sub appearances, four goals, including one in a 2-0 Elland Road victory against QPR.

Back in the Premier League, there were 14 starts, 13 sub appearances, and one goal off the bench away to Southampton as Bielsa’s team succeeded in their mission of consolidating their promotion. Despite the lack of goals, a new three-year contract was forthcoming. Born to Jamaican and Welsh parents, he made his Wales debut in 2018 having represented them at every age group from U17 upwards and now has 15 caps but is yet to score.

He has signed for QPR on a season-long loan, with a reported fee of £4m agreed for a permanent transfer should Rangers win promotion in 2022/23 – stop laughing at the back.

Reaction

“At this stage in my career, I want to play as many games as I can and this is a great club to come and do that at. I can feel the buzz around the place ahead of the new season with the new gaffer. I had a chat with him and his enthusiasm towards the game is clear. He’s got a great track record with improving young players and he wants to play football in the right way. He feels that now is the time for me to really push on in my career – and so do I. The division is full of ups and downs but as long as we stick together, I’m sure good times will follow. It would be a massive career achievement for me to go to the World Cup – but to go I know I need to be playing my best football.” - Tyler Roberts

“I spoke with him about his future. He had a lot of other offers but he wanted to come here which was massive. He fits our profile really well. He is very flexible, is at a fantastic age and already has excellent experience. I like hybrid forwards. I would say Chris Willock is a hybrid forward – he can play wide, he can play through the middle and he can play as a ten. Ilias is the same – he can play on both sides and drop into the middle. Tyler fits into that as well. I knew him as a kid playing as a centre-forward when he was coming through at West Brom, and at Leeds he has been used in all of those attacking positions. I can see him as a nine and I can see him as a ten with Chris, Ilias and the other options we have. He gives us a lot of options in the final third to play with the players we have got. He isn’t coming in to replace anyone, he is coming here to enhance what we already have.” - Michael Beale

Opinion

If my blabbering on constantly about ‘the answers are in the accounts’ hasn’t registered, and you needed another sign of exactly where QPR are this summer, then this signing is surely it. A goalscoring record of nine in 60 starts and 48 sub appearances is never going to get the fires burning too brightly, and whether they think Roberts is a trier who’s been unlucky and lacked a significant run of games in the team, or simply isn’t very good, it’s difficult to find a Leeds fan overly fussed about his departure. That’s the harsh assessment.

There is some mitigation to the goalscoring record – 48 of his Leeds appearances have come from the bench and only add up to 1,180 minutes in total with an average appearance length of just 24 minutes, and 14 of them coming in under 15 minutes. He is at least quite quick, and as stated repeatedly last season QPR’s squad since Bright Osayi-Samuel skipped town is painfully slow. It’s a player at a great age, already with that magic 150 senior appearances under his belt at 23, with everything to prove and a career ahead of him, as opposed to some of the other loaned forwards we’ve relied upon in recent years with very mixed results as I’ll come onto shortly. He’s able to play several positions, vital when you’re trying to put a competitive squad together on a tight budget. There was much debate among the supporters, and behind the scenes at the club, last January about whether we needed another striker, or cover for Willock and Chair – Warburton pushed the latter option, and got caned for it when Jamie Paterson and Tom Lawrence didn’t materialise and the season fell apart, but the effect of Chris Willock’s season-ending injury probably justified his concern at a lack of cover for Illy and Willy. Willock, it’s already been confirmed, will miss the start of the season with that injury he picked up, so having somebody who can not only bolster a misfiring forward line currently consisting of Dykes, Bonne and the kids, but also cover for the two in behind them, is not to be sniffed at. That’s the positive stuff.

Strikers have been a problem for QPR for sometime, ironically since one of their greatest ever returned to the club as director of football. Having scored 18 times in a relegated Premier League team, and received a first England call up, Charlie Austin should have been a £15m+ sale that could have financed a first class replacement. Unfortunately QPR didn’t renew his contract when things were going well, and found him not really in the mood to do so when they weren’t as he eyed the sort of cut-price move to Southampton that comes with a ginormous salary because they were able to save on the transfer fee.

Since then Rangers have been trying to hack down a wage bill from its £80m p/a gross excess of the 2013/14 season, while maintaining a steady and competitive status in the Championship. At the same time clubs like Newcastle and Villa mismanaged themselves to this level, inflating the price for strikers to such an extent that £8m only got you Gary Madine, Jonathan Kodija, Kenneth Zohore or Jordan Hugill, £11m was only enough for Scott Hogan, Bennick Afobe or Ross McCormack, and £20m only nets Solomon Rondon. Rangers tried to circumnavigate this first by shopping in budget European markets for the likes of Seb Polter and Idrissa Sylla – a tactic with limited success, and one that’s increasingly difficult now thanks to the wonders of Brexit. Then they relied on loans, with more failure than success – Tomer Hemed, Jan Mlakar. Hugill and Wells were better, but the former ran a miss of the season competition while he was here, and the latter is remembered far more fondly for leaving at the end of a hot January streak when Ebere Eze and Osayi-Samuel were at their unplayable best than he would have been had he gone on January 1 at which point after 18 months of steady form and missed penalties few QPR fans were that arsed about him.

The sale of Eze and the headroom it created beneath the maximum permitted loss of £39m over any rolling three-year period allowed the club to have a go at owning its own forwards again. Macauley Bonne, once again eulogising this week in the Suffolk press about his keenness to return to Ipswich and sit on their bench again as soon as possible, doesn’t look like it’s going to work out. Lyndon Dykes still might, if he could be half as interested in playing for QPR as he is for Scotland, and turn in a few more performances like those against Man Utd, Preston and Reading last season and few less like the insipid slop he phoned in on plenty of other occasions – Sheff Utd away sticks in the mind as a particular piss-boiler. Charlie Kelman looks less likely to be our Messiah with each passing loan, and so obviously the Fifa Ultimate Teams lads from social media are heaping it all on the shoulders of 18-year-old Sinclair Armstrong.

The pull of an emotional return to W12 and the chance of a two-year deal returned Austin home permanently last summer, but he was not only a shadow of his former self, but also not even as good as he had been on loan when rescuing us from an increasingly dodgy situation in 2020/21. That, and a loan deal for Watford’s Andre Gray, will not have come cheap. Stefan Johansen didn’t come cheap. Andre Dozzell, Jimmy Dunne, Sam McCallum, David Marshall, Dion Sanderson… none of this will have come cheap. Some really good signings, some great value, some not so good and not so great, but none of it free by any stretch of the imagination, and without a player sale of any sort to report QPR are going to surely be up above the £20m-loss mark in the next set of accounts even with the return of paying spectators - Rangers lost just £4m in the last set, but that included the Eze sale.

What budget there is has been spent on Kenneth Paal and Jake Clarke-Salter to plug obvious gaps left by Lee Wallace and Yoann Barbet, but for the other obvious holes at right back and up front we’re going to have to get creative. Danny McNamara has been linked from Millwall for the right side of the defence and would be a terrific capture – Rangers seem to think his contract situation, expiring next year, might work to their advantage but have had a bid said to be around £700,000 turned down already and with McNamara a died-in-the-wool Millwall fan and the Lions doing some shrewd business of their own this summer it would seem a strange decision to hop across London now.

I think, without a significant sale, we’re going to have to rely largely on loans. At least this one is young, with plenty to prove. What we’ve found here in the past, particularly with strikers, is you tend to find out what’s available at the end of the transfer window rather than the start. Signings like Roberts are available now, like Mlakar was, but you have to wait to see if Hugill, Wells, Hemed and those likes are on the slate or not. This season starts earlier than ever, the last Saturday in July, and Rangers will have played seven Championship games and a League Cup tie at Charlton before that window closes.

It's an awkward predicament. One we keep finding ourselves back in as a club losing £1.8m a month, without parachute payments, and with few ways of increasing revenue other than developing players to sell. Get a carousel of sales going, regularly fetching £8m-£10m for players, and you can start doing things like selling Scott Hogan and buying Benrahma, selling Benrahma and buying Ivan Toney. But Eze is the only one we’ve done that successfully with, and that headroom was largely burned off last season. Until we are able to do that regularly, or uncover a gem from the lower divisions or Europe, it’s often going to be a signing like this to cover the gaps.

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probbo added 22:59 - Jul 6
Hi Clive, when you lay out the Club’s financial position as starkly as that, l think the Board are doing a fair job trying to try and keep things afloat while garnering a squad that can (hopefully) compete.

When l hark back to the early 80’s we always were a ‘selling club’ nurturing youth and ultimately selling them on. There were so many entries in the back of our match programs that read ‘another product of Ranger’s youth team’. Obviously the game has evolved, finances have gone crazy and those days are gone to a degree but maybe the new training ground at Heston will start to yield some decent youth players who can break in to the first team in future. Perhaps that’s part of Beale’s brief too. It’s a real shame we’ve not seen more progression from the youth team in recent years. All that aside let’s hope Roberts finds his scoring mojo in the Club. God knows we could do with a 15-20 goal a season player!
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Myke added 23:34 - Jul 6
Will we have freed up any significant head space with the wages we save on Austin/Wallace/Barbet, who surely with Johanson, must have been amongst our higher earners? I still think we will buy a RB. I don't think Beale who places so much importance on the role of full backs would trust a loanee, unless it was for the season,with no possibility of a recall. Even then, I'm not sure, why would you put in a huge effort to train a player to play in a very specific way, only for him to return to his parent club at the end of the loan. I think the attempted purchase of McNamara, whether it is successful or not, bears this out
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KingsQuay added 00:22 - Jul 7
Oh dear, Tyler Roberts is terrible. Shoots straight at the keeper like he's a magnet. We would gladly give you him free. He is truly shocking.
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Andybrat added 10:02 - Jul 7
Guys go onto the forum and look at the entry from the Leeds fan on page 4. Prem / Championship experience, 23 years old, quick, endorsement from Leeds fan ( and the ones I know). Cover for Willock or Ilias. This doesn’t look like a lame horse to me. He chose us over others also. Ever the optimist but I totally get it. Great report Clive btw.
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Rangersw12 added 13:20 - Jul 7
I do wonder if the owners are scared of selling players as they will get slaughtered by the twitter twts

As I've said previously we're clearly sleep walking into a situation where our "gems" contracts are running down and they will go for half their true value
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Antti_Heinola added 14:23 - Jul 7
We're not 'clearly sleepwalking' into anything.
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BrianMcCarthy added 16:44 - Jul 7
Great info and report, Clive.
Thanks as ever.
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derbyhoop added 18:53 - Jul 7
He meets the profile of recent signings. He's fairly young, had injuries, but can be developed into a better player. Add 60 PL appearances and it's fair to say he's just about the best we can afford.
Against is the injury record and a less than overwhelming scoring record.

Let's hope Beale can live up to his reputation and turn this pig's ear into a silk purse. If he does that and we manage to get promoted, nobody will begrudge the £4m fee to make the deal permanent.
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pudd66 added 10:38 - Jul 10
great overview Clive, Roberts appears to be a reasonable piece of business, certainly we need an injection of pace which he will bring. I hope we get a fee for Bonne and use it towards Chair and Willock extensions. Hamalinian needs to go for his own sake, Kakay maybe a squad role, Carling cup but effectively league1/2 level. Dykes, Roberts, Sinclair-Armstrong not enough assuming Kellman and Bonne not in the picture, late loan from prem B side incoming I hope
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