Canaries Debate: A long road back for Mo Leitner?
PUBLISHED: 10:12 27 November 2019 | UPDATED: 11:27 27 November 2019
Anybody who watched Mo Leitner operate in a Norwich City shirt last season will be able to explain his quality at length.
In a side designed to display a greater level of technical proficiency than its opponents, Leitner's qualities in a midfield were telling as City passed their way to the Championship title.
This is a player who has occupied the bench during a Champions League final and played in the Bundesliga and Serie A.
The Premier League offers a rigorous step-up, with the increased physicality often hard to adjust to, especially for players who thrive on dominating possession.
Leitner fits that mould, with his defensive intelligence rather than physicality used to intercept and cut passing lines.
The mission for the Canaries chief has been to locate a position that gets the best from the German midfielder but doesn't compromise City's defensive structure.
Farke has attempted to deploy him as a number 10 in order to extract the quality without harming the aforementioned structure with limited success.
Now, Leitner has seemingly fallen down the pecking order, with him failing to make the last two match-day squads. His relationship with the City boss extends back to their days at Borussia Dortmund, where Leitner appeared for Farke's squad.
That association was pivotal to bringing him to Norfolk after some career choices that went wrong.
Whilst that bond may have been tested in the aftermath of defeat at Brighton and his subsequent dropping, it is up to Leitner to show he can still be part of City's Premier League campaign.
Joining City was supposedly an attempt to rebuild a career which had begun to come off the tracks, eventually, he discovered a place he could call home with a coach whom he trusted.
The quest for a balanced midfield continues, with the desire to shore up a porous defence, Leitner isn't a man being utilised as a creator at present.
In essence, his skill-set contains a different range of attributes, namely passing through the lines and serving as a metronome for City in possession.
That obdurate streak is something City need to retain but Farke will have to remain conscious of the need for attacking support for Teemu Pukki.
Leitner's pedigree and talent is something all City fans are aware of, with his cameos last season influential to asserting the philosophy Farke wanted to construct.
However, like many, adaptation to the Premier League has proved difficult.
The challenge for Leitner now is to re-establish himself in the City starting XI.