RONNY DEILA has insisted Patrick Roberts will NOT quit Celtic and head back to Manchester City.
The 19-year-old winger, who agreed an 18-month loan deal in January, scored his first goals for the club in the 3-1 triumph over Hearts at the weekend.
Former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola will take over at The Etihad in the summer when he comes to the end of his contract with German giants Bayern Munich and there has been speculation he may recall the youngster who cost £12million from Fulham.
Deila, though, is preparing for this summer’s Champions League qualifiers and believes crowd-pleaser Roberts could be an ideal player to have to give him options with his squad.
He said: “The deal we have with Manchester City is for 18 months and we did that because we wanted the player to have time to settle and get to know how we play before the summer and next season.
“We have always believed that he could be a big player for us.
“So, there is no way he will be going back to Manchester City before the deal runs out. We made that very clear. We wanted him for the long-term loan. It was key to the move because we are trying to build a squad capable of performing and getting into the UEFA Champions League.
“He is a Celtic player for now. He is here, we are starting to see that he is a very talented boy and I think we will all see a little bit more of him now.
“He needed this time to get to know how we play and you have to remember that he is still very young. But if we can get the ball out to him, you can see what he is capable of doing.”
There is a possible clash looming, however, with Roberts part of the England squad who will play in the UEFA Under-19 European championships this summer.
Last week, Deila watched Roberts play his role as his country knocked out Spain from the competition and game dates and fixtures will be confirmed on April 12. The competition will take place in Germany between July 11 and 24.
The Hoops expect the second Champions League qualifier to take place on either July 12 or 13 and the Norwegian said: “That is something we will address nearer the time. It will depend on a few things, but for now our priority is simply to make sure that we win the league.
“We have Dundee tomorrow night and we want to keep on pushing ahead now and get to a point where we cannot be caught.”
A victory at Dens Park will push the champions seven points ahead of Aberdeen again while the Dons play catch-up. The Pittodrie side face a dangerous trip to Tynecastle on Friday evening to take on a Hearts side who played well, despite their 3-1 loss in Glasgow.