The inside story on City, Liverpool and Jamal Lewis saga
Jamal Lewis reportedly cut short a holiday to seal a ‘dream move’ to Liverpool. He might need another to stop his head spinning before Norwich City begin their Championship quest.
Not that it is any laughing matter. Not for a 22-year-old who was at the centre of a feeding frenzy before, during and after Liverpool’s very public pursuit played out through favoured media.
Such as it was. One emailed offer last Wednesday night around 9:30pm, to Stuart Webber’s inbox before an immediate rejection was returned.
A brief message containing proposed figures that would have represented a fifth of what Manchester City paid to a fellow relegated club, Bournemouth, for Nathan Ake. Allied to very ambitious clauses inserted for future earnings, such as Lewis’ leading role in another Champions League victory for Jurgen Klopp’s men.
That, after a day when the club had been bombarded by media requests informing them of an incoming offer from Merseyside.
City were left waiting for acknowledgement to their reply, let alone a response or a second, improved offer to the opening curt exchange. From City’s side there would have been pragmatism and a realism a deal could have been struck to the benefit of all parties.
That Liverpool did not return with an improved bid and within days had unveiled Kostas Tsimikas from Olympiakos left more questions than answers. Certainly for Norwich.
Tsimikas himself has since suggested his move was already well underway by the time his former club were exiting the Europa League at Wolves.
That came barely 24 hours after contact had been made with the Canaries.
Whether Lewis was a bargaining chip or whether the Reds were prepared to see which of the two chases paid off first is open to debate. The voluminous slew of social media opinion has raged for days since.
There are plenty of Norwich fans who share the club’s own view a lack of respect was shown.
All the more puzzling given Webber and fellow executive committee member Zoe Ward built relationships that still endure with Liverpool from their previous time working on Merseyside.
Now the fear for many of those same Norwich fans is they have to repair one with a player who had the chance taken away to join the Premier League, World and still European champions.
There has been no rupture.
Both Lewis and his representative were as surprised as his club to discover the scale of Liverpool’s modest offer, even in the current economic climate. There has been no fallout. There will be no downing of tools or any transfer request.
City’s top brass were mindful of the negative currents this could unleash around a tight knit dressing room and have already sought to limit any repercussions.
Lewis’ maturity saw him emerge as the first of Daniel Farke’s fledglings to cement a place in Norwich’s first team. But the last few days must have left him bruised, dazed and upset.
Who would not want to jump at the chance to work with Klopp and his galaxy of talent?
The Northern Irish international was no different. It is a mark perhaps of his self-confidence he was ready to take his chance to compete with Andy Robertson. But Lewis can also see the bigger picture.
There will be other offers and other interest, if he continues his accelerated progress.
Liverpool in the short term viewed him, or for that matter Tsimikas, as a prospective signing that could provide back up and challenge the Scot on the left of the Reds’ superb defence.
Yes the champions of England have a duty to their own club and vast fan base, and no doubt a summer transfer strategy where sourcing an understudy to a player yet in his prime hardly ranked as a top priority.
But City should not be disrespected or called into questioned for attaching a different value to Lewis. Or Ben Godfrey, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia.
That was another crucial factor in play. Norwich will not undersell one of their best and brightest, if it unleashes potential demands for similar parity in this transfer window from the rest, should clubs come knocking.
Webber could not have been clearer following relegation.
None of the above leave for less than they received in tougher financial territory for James Maddison.
Many Norwich fans have already noted reports Liverpool will now potentially listen to offers for one of their own in Harry Wilson.
A homegrown player contracted to the Reds for the same length as Lewis is to Norwich. A player who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth, where he made three more Premier League appearances, and currently has five more international caps.
Wilson is yet to appear for his parent club in the Premier League. Yet the Welshman is now being touted for £20m. Sound familiar?
If that is the going market rate for the 23-year-old then it is hard to see why Liverpool felt they could lift Lewis for less than half that amount. If they wanted him at all.
The wheel has already turned. Liverpool have their man. Norwich have Lewis.
Social media duels back and forth show little sign of abating. Expect plenty more speculation around City’s young left back in the weeks ahead.
Lewis has made no secret of his ambition to play at the very highest level. If it is not to be this summer there is an expectancy within Carrow Road that could happen in the next two windows that follow.
But this affair leaves a sour aftertaste.