TYLER ROBERTS secured himself the “perfect opportunity” at Leeds United but goalkeeper Andy Lonergan saw a mooted switch to Sunderland break down as the January transfer window closed last night.
Roberts completed Leeds’ first-team business with a £2.5m move from West Bromwich Albion yesterday, signing a four-and-a-half year contract at Elland Road and ending United’s search for a new centre-forward.
A deal for the 19-year-old materialised on Tuesday after Daniel Sturridge’s loan move from Liverpool to The Hawthorns persuaded West Brom to reluctantly listen to offers for Roberts.
Roberts, a Wales Under-21 international, was highly rated by Albion but had entered the last six months of his contract and was in a position to move on for nominal compensation in the summer.
West Brom technical director Nick Hammond admitted the club had lost “one of our bright academy prospects” but Roberts said he had been driven by the need to “go and play” after three loans spells in League One.
“There’s no problems with me back at West Brom,” Roberts said. “There was just the situation of me wanting to go and play. When a big club like Leeds comes in for you it seems like the perfect opportunity to go and do that.
“Everyone hears things about what’s going on but I was just training there, pushing to get into the team. Then I start to know that Leeds was more of a serious note so I was prepared for anything.
“It’s gone into talks with West Brom and my agent and it became more set in stone that it could happen. If you get asked to come here, it’s a massive honour. Any player would.”
Roberts was United’s only first-team deal on deadline day after talks over Lonergan’s proposed transfer to Sunderland collapsed.
Leeds, however, pulled off a late development-squad signing by landing 17-year-old Forest Green Rovers midfielder Jordan Stevens for an undisclosed fee.
I’d like to think I can go straight into the first team and have an impact. I know they’re pushing for the play-offs and that’s a big thing to come into. It’ll be exciting times.Tyler Roberts
Stevens came through the youth team ranks at Forest Green and made his senior debut in September. United are understood to have beaten off Premier League competition.
Roberts’ £2.5m arrival, meanwhile, followed on from Leeds paying £3m to Middlesbrough for Adam Forshaw and £1.5m to Club Brugge for Laurens De Bock.
Japanese midfielder Yosuke Ideguchi - currently on loan with Cultural Leonesa in Spain - arrived in a £500,000 deal from Gamba Osaka while United made several other additions to their Under-23 squad.
Leeds, along with several other clubs, had been tracking Roberts from the early stages of the transfer window with West Brom struggling to agree an extended contract.
United were anxious to increase their attacking threat after five league games without a win, including a goalless draw at Hull on Tuesday night.
Roberts, who spent the first half of this season on loan at Walsall, could make his debut in Saturday’s Championship clash with Cardiff City.
“I’ve been in League One last season and the start of this season and I think I coped with it very well,” he said. “I’ve adapted to each club and I think I’ve got better as well. I’m ready to come into the Championship and show what I’m about.
“I’d like to think I can go straight into the first team and have an impact. I know they’re pushing for the play-offs and that’s a big thing to come into. It’ll be exciting times.”
INS: Laurens De Bock (£1.5m, Club Brugge), Adam Forshaw (Middlesbrough, £3m), Tyler Roberts (West Brom, £2.5m), Yosuke Ideguchi (Gamba Osaka, £500,000), Aapo Halme (HJK Helsinki, undisclosed), Oliver Sarkic (Benfica, undisclosed), Pascal Struijk (Ajax, undisclosed), Sam Dalby (Leyton Orient, undisclosed), Jordan Stevens (Forest Green, undisclosed).
OUTS: Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (season-long loan from Man Utd cancelled), Mallik Wilks (Grimsby, half-season loan), Liam Kitching (Harrogate Town, month’s loan), Mateusz Klich (Utrecht, half-season loan), Ideguchi (Cultural Leonesa, half-season loan).