Why have Liverpool fans started talking about City star Cantwell as a transfer target?
PUBLISHED: 14:49 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 14:49 08 January 2020
There's been much talk of runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool being interested in Norwich City's rising star Todd Cantwell in recent days.
The England Under-21 international's impressive top-flight return of six goals and two assists from 21 games has reportedly caught the attention of several other clubs.
The Daily Mail claimed Tottenham and Manchester City were keen, while The Sun added Manchester United, Everton and West Ham to the mix.
That second report added that Cantwell was happy to stay with the Canaries until the summer, to try and help avoid relegation back to the Championship for the club he has played for since he was nine years old.
However, several websites which report on World Club Cup champions Liverpool have since picked up on a fresh line about summer interest from the Reds.
That emerged from The Athletic's correspondent David Ornstein floating the prospect in one of his latest articles, which he was asked more about on The Ornstein & Chapman Podcast.
Joined by Match of the Day Two presenter Mark Chapman and Athletic colleague Dominic Fifield, the respected former BBC and Guardian reporter revealed more.
In a discussion about potential January business at the Premier League's big clubs, here's how their conversation unfolded...
Chapman: "But there's also the impression, Dom, that club's suddenly stumble over a player because they've had a good couple of months.
"David's column talks about Todd Cantwell at Norwich suddenly interesting a few clubs and you kind of think in this era of scouting networks, analytics and massive recruitment departments, that he can't have just come onto Premier League clubs' radars in the last two months?"
Fifield: "The strange thing about Todd Cantwell's case is that he's almost surprised Norwich as well, because they didn't see him as a first-choice regular last summer, I don't think he played that often in the Championship.
"He has progressed rapidly and surprisingly. But you're right, in the days where the elite clubs' recruitment departments are all-encompassing, all over the world, players should not be emerging unnoticed almost overnight. They should know long-term planning.
"That's the key, the summer recruitment reflects long-term planning and a long-term vision. The winter window, not so much."
Ornstein: "But we don't know if Cantwell has suddenly just come on to the clubs' radars. So my information is there is interest in him for a summer transfer from, in no particular order: Liverpool, Tottenham, Manchester United and Manchester City.
"Now I genuinely don't know how long that interest has been formulating, it could have been behind the scenes for quite a while and we weren't privy to the numbers and he hadn't exploded onto the scene.
"Or it can be that they are adapting to circumstances and that they're going to use the coming months to assess, to negotiate, to see what happens with Norwich's Premier League status, they may not end up pursuing it.
"But I don't think it's quite as dramatic perhaps as we think it might be."
Chapman: "Manchester United will have to go some won't they, to fit Cantwell, Winks, Maddison, and Grealish all into the same midfield? My cynicism knows no bounds!"
VERDICT: While Cantwell's eye-catching skill and style may well have seen some of the big boys start to play closer attention, that's hardly surprising for a 21-year-old making an attacking impression at a club currently bottom of the table.
If any of those clubs weren't aware of the young talents City have, including Emi Buendia and Max Aarons as well, their scouts would be failing in their job.
The 'Dereham Deco' is under contract until 2022 however and the Canaries' finances are in good shape, so if that apparent interest does evolve into bids in the summer, regardless of which division City are in they will be in a strong position for negotiation.
The Mail story floated a £30million value and that would seem a reasonable starting point for a young player who may well end up in double figures for his goal return this season.
James Maddison was sold to Leicester in a deal worth up to £25m in 2018, before he had even played in the Premier League, so if Cantwell can keep progressing then Norwich could well have another prized asset to cash in if required in the summer.
For now, City fans will just want the local lad to focus on maintaining that influence in front of goal, to help give their team a chance of pulling off a great escape.
But for a player who just two years ago was making his professional debut and going out for his first taste of loan action, the speculation continues a remarkable rise in profile in recent months.