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Barnsley defender Marc Roberts has been on the radar of Premier League outfit Burnley for quite some time now. The 26-year old was heavily scouted by the Clarets in the January transfer window earlier this year and The Guardian even claimed that they were close to agreeing a £3.5million move for the centre-back. However, nothing materialized on that front and Roberts stayed put with the Tykes.
But ahead of next season, there are good chances that Burnley might renew their pursuit in the Englishman. According to journalist Alan Nixon, the Clarets have been alerted by peaking interests in Roberts from Championship side Birmingham City and are set to act quickly to sign the defender, as they brace themselves for the impending exit of star man Michael Keane in the summer.
So, who exactly is Marc Roberts? What will he be bringing to the table for the Clarets? Let’s take a look.
Born in Wakefield, England, on July 26, 1990, Roberts began his footballing career with non-league side FC Wakefield in 2010, before moving on to Worksop Town on a free transfer a year later, and to FC Buxton a year after that.
In the summer of 2013, Roberts joined Conference Premier side Halifax Town, where he made his reputation as an up and coming centre-half. In his two years with the Shaymen, Roberts made a total of 93 appearances, in which he scored 9 goals and assisted 9, before earning his big move to Barnsley in the summer of 2015.
In his first season with the Tykes in the League One, Roberts became a vital cog in the team’s wheels as they achieved promotion to the EFL Championship and also managed to get their hands on the EFL Trophy in 2015/16. Following the promotion to the Championship, Roberts continued his highly impressive displays at the heart of the defence for Barnsley, and as a result was rewarded with the club captaincy in January this year, following the exit of Conor Hourihane to Aston Villa.
Till date, Roberts has garnered a total of 84 appearances for the Tykes, scoring 5 times and setting up 4 goals. In the 2016/17 campaign, he made a total of 44 appearances and chipped in with 4 goals, helping Barnsley to a 14th placed finish on their return to the second tier.
An old fashioned centre-back in all ways, Roberts is known for his no nonsense approach in defence. Standing tall at 6ft, the 26-year old utilises his height and physicality well to impose himself on forwards and is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to aerial battles. Last season, Roberts won a total of 243 headed duels from 326 attempts at a success rate of 75%. His prowess in the air also makes him a huge threat in the opponents’ box from set-pieces.
A mature and reliable presence in the backline, Roberts relies on his reading of the game to keep out danger and isn’t a reckless tackler who dives into challenges. The Englishman averaged a total of 15 defensive actions per ninety minutes last season, indicating his alertness and defensive nous.
However, his passing out from the back does leave a lot to be desired. Roberts managed a less than average 59% passing accuracy last season and it is something that he will need to work upon, considering that the ball playing abilities have become of paramount importance for a centre-half in recent times.
Roberts just has a year left on his current contract with Barnsley and there haven’t been any discussions over a new deal as of yet. With Burnley maintaining such a strong interest in the centre-back, a move at this point of time cannot be ruled out. However, with Birmingham’s mounting interest, the Clarets will need to act quickly, if they are to seal his signature in the summer.
** Stats Taken From Squawka.com