From Mbappe to Ronaldo and now the Canaries. Danel Sinani’s path to Carrow Road
PUBLISHED: 17:15 18 April 2020 | UPDATED: 17:32 18 April 2020
PA Archive/PA Images
Danel Sinani is the latest piece of recruitment that will have Norwich fans hoping the club have sourced another gem. Paddy Davitt got the lowdown from a formative influence in Luxembourg chief Luc Holtz.
When you can hold Kylian Mbappe’s France on your international debut then a pending move to Norwich City is unlikely to faze Danel Sinani.
Luxembourg’s reigning player of the year had only just turned 20 when national boss, Luc Holtz, opted to unleash him in a World Cup qualifier in 2017.
Holtz labelled it afterwards ‘a day of glory for Luxembourg football’ after a country ranked 136 places lower in the pecking order held a star-studded French squad in Toulouse, who barely 10 months later would be crowned world champions in Russia.
That should serve to tell any City fan Sinani has the temperament, quite apart from the talent, to make his mark in Norfolk.
For Holtz, who first spotted Sinani at the age of 15, producing more footballers like the Canaries’ summer arrival now good enough to be spotted by the best leagues in Europe is vital.
“It’s key,” said Holtz, himself a former Luxembourg international who has been in charge of the national side since 2010. “If a country like Luxembourg wants to improve, it’s the only way. Because the intensity of the games, the experience they get every week, will help them to take the right decisions on the pitch and it will help our national team to improve.
“Football is about time and space. During international games you’ve got to take information on board and make decisions very fast but combine this with precision.
“If you’re not used to doing this every week, no way, you can not win international games.
“Danel is able to keep and protect the ball, even in difficult games, like (his debut) against France. This, combined to his finishing qualities, makes Danel a big player and a leader for the upcoming years in the Luxembourg national team.”
Holtz insists Sinani knows better than anyone he will have it all to prove at Norwich, to answer the inevitable questions whether he can handle the unique demands of English football.
The 23-year-old Belgrade-born attacker looks to have out-grown club football in his homeland, after eye-catching displays for F91 Dudelange brought him to the attention of the Canaries’ scouting network.
“When Danel was 15, I coached him in our under-15 team. He always had that great technique, that quality when he had the ball,” said Holtz. “But as a young player he was missing the athletic power. Those qualities came a little later.
“For sure. Danel probably needs some time to adapt to the intensity of the games, but I think he can handle that. He’ll start that new challenge with a big motivation and a strong mentality.
“Danel is a smart man. He has to improve his strength and athletic qualities to become more powerful, especially considering the style of football if Norwich are relegated and in the Championship.”
Sinani has already come across both Michael McGovern and Jamal Lewis in a friendly defeat for his country earlier this season. The forward has 21 caps and played against the likes of Portugal’s Ronaldo in the most recent European Championship qualifying campaign.
For Holtz, those recent achievements of Northern Ireland under their former boss Michael O’Neill is a source of inspiration.
“They are a team that play with heart and fight, they never give up,” he said, speaking following that Belfast 1-0 friendly defeat. “To qualify for a major tournament would be very difficult but that’s what we’re aiming for. The will is there. It will be difficult but you never know in football and maybe we can make a breakthrough.
“It’s a change of mentality in the head. A few years ago our players went out on the pitch not to lose by too many. Now they go out and want to win. That’s a big change that has helped us progress.”