Manchester City are set to open contract talks with Tosin Adarabioyo after the end of a productive loan spell at Rovers came to an end.

The central defender is in to the final 12 months of his Etihad deal, but has enhanced his reputation during his season-long stay at Ewood Park where he played 35 times.

It was a second successive season in the Championship for the 22-year-old, after featuring for West Brom in 2018/19, but he feels he has benefited from playing his preferred position under Tony Mowbray.

Indeed Adarabioyo credits the manager to play with the freedom he craved, his ability to play out from the back a key feature in how Rovers have gone about their game this season.

City have a number of central defenders coming through their ranks, with Eric Garica and Taylor Harwood-Bellis both having first-team exposure since Adarabioyo’s last appearance for City in March 2018.

He has played eight times in all, but none of those in the Premier League, but his performances in the blue and white halves haven’t gone unnoticed, with a number of top-flight clubs thought to be monitoring his situation.

While Rovers could be keen to have Adarabioyo back for next season, finances will rule out a permanent move, while after two successive Championship loan spells, Mowbray expects City, and Adarabioyo, to look at top-flight football should opportunities under Pep Guardiola not be forthcoming.

City are likely to look to strengthen in defence in a bid to close the 18-point gap to champions Liverpool next season, with Bournemouth’s Nathan Ake linked at the same time the futures of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones appear uncertain.

And Adarabioyo will be hoping to break in at his boyhood club, having stated his ambition is to captain City in the future.

He was left out of Rovers’ final two matches, with a tight hamstring and the dead rubber matches both having a say in that, ahead of his return to his parent club.

But he is thankful for the opportunities provided at Rovers, picking out his equalising goal in the win over Sheffield Wednesday in November as his stand-out moment.

That was one of three goals he scored, all coming in wins, including a goal of the season of the season nominee against Bristol City.

At that point Rovers moved to within one point of the top six, but in the end, they fell quest in their bid for the play-offs.

“Obviously we’re all disappointed we didn’t get over the line and get in to the play-offs,” he said, reflecting on his time in East Lancashire.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here, it’s been a great experience, all great lads.

“On a personal level I feel I have had a lot of good performances, shown everyone what I can do, and that’s been great to come here and do so.

“The gaffer has given me a great platform to play my game the way I play. That’s fitted in with how he wants the team to play and he’s been very supportive of that.

“He’s put a lot of faith in me, putting me in the team straight away, and shown me a lot of support.”

Adarabioyo is an ambitious character, keen to play at the highest level possible, and that includes at international level. He has represented England at age group level, from Under-16s to Under-19s, but is available to play for Nigeria should he wish.

And that could well come in to his thinking as he contemplates his international, as well as club, future. The 2022 World Cup in Qatar is already on his mind, by which point he will be 25 and moving in to the prime of his career.

He said: “I’m eligible to play for England or Nigeria. I believe I should be going to the next World Cup either with England or Nigeria, that’s my target.”

Earlier this year, Leeds United were said to be monitoring Adarabioyo’s progress, and he could well be a good fit for the newly-promoted side should an Elland Road return for Ben White not be forthcoming.

Adarabioyo’s stats throughout the campaign were impressive, a unique one being that he went through the whole campaign without a single booking, largely down to his excellent positioning.

Infact, he made just 11 fouls across the season, compared with Darragh Lenihan’s 54. He won 30 of his 42 attempted tackles, and 108 of his 155 attempted headers. Added to that were 161 clearances, 64 interceptions and 25 blocks.

What has made Adarabioyo stand-out however, is how comfortable in possession he has been, and without him, Rovers missed his ability to play the ball out from defence, just as much, if not more, than his actual defending.

Of his 1,383 attempted short passes, 1,195 were completed, with an 80 per cent pass completion rate overall.

While for Rovers, another season in the Championship awaits, a Premier League future beckons.

Adarabioyo’s loan deal has proved the benefits, but draw-backs, of the loan system. While Rovers were able to have a high-quality footballer for a price that suited them, and they otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford, they are now left with a Premier League quality void in the heart of their defence.