Norwich City close in on Marley Watkins
PUBLISHED: 16:10 17 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:10 17 May 2017
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Norwich City have sealed a three-year deal for Barnsley attacker Marley Watkins.
Teamtalk report on Wednesday the Canaries could officially confirm Watkins’ arrival prior to the weekend, after the 26-year-old free agent opted to reject a new deal at Oakwell, sparking an intense battle among a clutch of Championship clubs for his services.
City’s bitter East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town reportedly failed with two seven figure bids in the January transfer window - and were heavily touted with a fresh summer swoop - along with Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Wolves and Bristol City.
The Canaries’ new sporting director Stuart Webber, however, had pledged to overhaul a squad who missed out on a top six place and Watkins is poised to join City’s Championship crusade when his Barnsley contract officially runs out next month.
Watkins, who can operate on either flank or down the middle and scored 10 goals in 45 appearances last season, confirmed his pending departure from the Reds on his official Twitter account last week.
The 26-year-old has been on the fringes of the Welsh senior squad over the past 12 months and would appear to fit the criteria Webber publicly outlined in his recruitment strategy, after rebuilding his career in non league when he initially failed to make the grade at Swansea City.
Watkins was on target against Webber’s former club, Huddersfield, in a 1-1 Championship draw back in February. Prior to joining Paul Heckingbottom’s Barnsley in 2015 he spent two years with Inverness and scored at Hampden Park in a Scottish Cup final win over Falkirk.
Watkins’ ex-boss at Inverness and Ipswich stalwart, Terry Butcher, admitted last week he feared his old team would miss the boat.
“I think he will now go to a club that will be able to offer him a lot more than what Ipswich can pay him,” he told the EADT. “Unfortunately, I think he will be moving on to bigger and better things now as there are a number of quality clubs looking at him. Celtic have been linked with him in Scotland and then there is interest from some high-end Championship clubs and even the Premier League. He was an unknown when I signed him and he progressed well and went on to win the Scottish Cup with Inverness.
“He is quick, has a lovely touch, he is immensely strong and good in the air. He is a nice lad too, I never had a problem with him – he was a pleasure to work with. He has got unbelievable potential and is hungry to succeed.”