Leeds United exodus begins with cut-price sale of midfielder to Championship rival
Relegation from the Premier League inevitably means a clear-out of players as the Elland Road try to cut their cloth after dropping out of club football's most lucrative domestic competition. Parachute payments and contract clauses automatically cutting the wages of senior players will only go so far.
Roberts' departure is no surprise given that he spent the whole of last season out on loan and Diego Llorente, who spent the second half of the campaign with Roma, is set to follow him out, but only on loan.
Although the fee is undisclosed, it is thought Leeds are taking a big loss on the £2.5m they paid West Bromwich Albion in 2019 after the Wales international’s disappointing, injury-hit season at Queens Park Rangers.
The attacking midfielder or forward scored just four goals in a campaign which was ended by a calf injury in January. The Rs finished 20th in last season's Championship, their form collapsing after a bright start. Birmingham fared little better, coming 17th.
With 108 appearances in his three-and-a-half seasons actually at the club, Roberts never cemented himself with Leeds, just 53 coming as league starts. He was part of the promotion-winning side of 2019-20, but only started one more game (12) than he played as a substitute, and again only scored four goals.
The hope will be that a move back to the west Midlands on a four-year contract can see him fulfill the potential shown at The Hawthorns.
Negotiations are still ongoing with regards to Llorente.
The Spain centre-back moved to Serie A in January "for personal reasons" on a six-month loan with a view to a permanent move but Roma regard the pre-agreed £15m price tag as too high and are therefore trying to negotiate a further 12-month loan with an obligation to buy at a price nearer half that if certain targets are met.
On the one hand, Leeds handed Llorente a contract until 2026 in December gives them more leverage to demand a higher price, on the other, it leaves them with a hefty commitment if they cannot move the 29-year-old on.
Others are sure to want to move too, with reports in the Netherlands Crysencio Summerville has told Leeds he does in the wake of interest from champions Feyenoord, although the hierarchy are said to be divided over the merits. The winger is currently at the European Under-21 Championship.
Middlesbrough's former head of European recruitment had been at Leeds since 2017 but paid the price for Leeds's struggle last season and fan unrest when he left in April.
“It was a very important part of my life, with some very good moments, and the bad moments are forgotten," said Orta, who signed Roberts, Llorente and Summerville amongst many others. "I forgot about that the day the door closed, just wanted to remember the good times I had there.”