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Celtic's Patrick Roberts should strive to emulate Leo Messi, says Patrick Collins

By Ronnie Esplin

Published 05/04/2016

Big impact: Patrick Roberts hit a double against Hearts
Big impact: Patrick Roberts hit a double against Hearts

John Collins has urged Patrick Roberts to aim for Lionel Messi standards at Celtic.

In only his second start for Ronny Deila's side since arriving on an 18-month loan deal from Manchester City at the end of January, the 19-year-old grabbed a double in the 3-1 home Scottish Premiership win over Hearts on Saturday.

It was the first senior goals scored by the former Fulham player, whose move to City last summer was for a reported fee of £11million.

His first effort at 1-1, a little dink over Neil Alexander, was described by former Hoops manager Neil Lennon, in his role as television pundit, as "absolute top class, Messi-esque," and his drive after the break gave the Jambos keeper no chance.

Ahead of the trip to Dundee tonight, where the Parkhead men can go back seven points clear of Aberdeen at the top of the table, the Hoops assistant manager was loath to make direct comparisons with the Barcelona superstar but insists Roberts should be striving to make the same contribution as Messi.

He said: "I don't like comparing him to the best player in the world, which in my opinion is Messi. But you can see where people get the resemblances.

"He is left-footed. He likes to take people on and if he ends up half as good as Messi then he has done well. That has got to be his target, to try to emulate what Lionel Messi does week in, week out, which is score goals, create chances.

"He is one of those players who gets you on the edge of your seat. When he gets the ball the first thing in his mind is can he take on a defender.

"The most important thing is continual progress. He has to produce week in, week out, that's what top players do."

The former Celtic and Scotland midfielder is looking for the league leaders to find their top form in the run-in.

He said: "We want to play better and better. Football is about winning and entertaining. There is more to come from us."

Collins confirmed Derk Boeriggter had been paid up by the club on a contract set to expire in the summer.

The 29-year-old winger was signed from Ajax in July 2013, for a reported fee of £3million but had not made a first team appearance since August, 2014.

Collins said: "We try to keep everyone involved and everyone gets an opportunity and when you get an opportunity you have to take it, that's football the world over.

"We wish him all the best for the future.

"Sometimes it doesn't work out and unfortunately for Derk and for us it never worked out for him."

Belfast Telegraph

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