City in control of contract situation despite uncertainty of league status
PUBLISHED: 06:00 13 February 2020 | UPDATED: 10:06 13 February 2020
With the immediate future of Alex Tettey sorted, and on the back of last summer's contract bonanza, Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber looks to have a strong negotiation position for whatever this summer brings.
Whether the Canaries are heading back to the Championship, or if they have pulled off a great escape to remain in the Premier League, it looks likely there will be other clubs interested in some of the club's top talent.
Yet the only players who look certain to leave at this stage are Bundesliga loanees Ondrej Duda and Ralf Fahrmann, both of whom would appear to command wages too high for Championship consideration - with any possible return dependent on top-flight status.
Tettey had been the main first-team uncertainty, but with the former Norway international midfielder signing up to a ninth season at City, the only other two immediate concerns are fringe players Sean Raggett, Diallang Jaiyesimi and Aston Oxborough.
All three are currently out on loan and have barely been in first-team contention - but also have one-year options in their contracts which can be activated.
Central defender Raggett was signed in the summer of 2017, the first transfer window of Webber's reign, in a deal reportedly worth around £350,000 after helping Lincoln City return to the Football League.
He has since made just two brief appearances under Daniel Farke though, returning to Lincoln initially and then enduring an injury-disrupted campaign with Rotherham, making seven Championship appearances last season.
After a shaky start the powerful defender has found his feet in League One with Portsmouth and will chase promotion for the remainder of this season, with success at Pompey looking to be key to any hopes of another chance at Norwich.
Skilful attacker Jaiyesimi, 20, is a regular for League Two leaders Swindon and has three goals in 15 games so far this season, pressing his claims to have that option activated.
Towering goalkeeper Oxborough turns 22 in May and has seen injuries hinder his progress as well, with the Gorleston-born former England U16 international having been with the club since he was 12 years old.
Farke named the youngster as his substitute keeper for a Championship game at Reading in September 2018, only for a broken wrist to swiftly knock him out of contention, featuring as an unused substitute on two further occasions last season.
His first loan experience has followed, featuring regularly for National League South leaders Wealdstone before an injury in November, resuming his loan at the end of January to try and help the Stones seal promotion - will he do enough to earn another year at City though?
The summer of 2021 also appears to hold few issues either, with Mario Vrancic being the only name of note on that particular list.
The Bosnia & Herzegovina international signed a new two-year deal last summer on the back of his influential role during last season's Championship title triumph, becoming a firm fan favourite.
Vrancic, who turns 31 in May, saw the first half of this season ruined by injury but is certainly a player that supporters would back to do well in the second tier again if relegation cannot be avoided.
Beyond Tettey and Vrancic in 2021, the only players set to be facing contract uncertainty are veteran goalkeeper Michael McGovern and striker Carlton Morris.
Northern Ireland international McGovern operates as third choice and will turn 37 in the summer of 2021, but after just two league appearances during Farke's reign, it seems unlikely the former Hamilton keeper will progress beyond anything more than back up.
Morris remains something of an anomaly, as the last of the 2013 FA Youth Cup winners still on the books at City.
The striker is 24 now and has over 150 senior appearances on his CV from various loan spells, currently playing in League One under Russell Martin's tutelage at MK Dons, but still just one appearance for the Canaries.
With six goals and six assists from 35 games for Rotherham and the Dons this season, Morris looks to have put his injury problems behind him and with a year still to run on his contract, could yet get pre-season chances to impress at the start of 2020-21.
However, it's the likes of Max Aarons, Emi Buendia, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell who are likely to dominate much of Webber's thinking, regardless of which division City are preparing for this summer.
Yet, as so often, the Welshman has been thinking long term. New deals for almost all of City's title winners were secured during or after last season, so Aarons and Buendia are under contract until 2024, Godfrey and Jamal Lewis until 2023 and Cantwell, Teemu Pukki and Tim Krul until 2022 - with one-year options in Godfrey and Pukki's deals.
Contracts offer no guarantees and it's clear that City will need to bring in some money from transfer sales if they do find themselves having to deal with the huge downturn in income, but the length of those deals does keep values high and give Webber bargaining power.
- NCFC CONTRACTS
2020: Ondrej Duda (loan), Ralf Fahrmann (loan), Diallang Jaiyesimi*, Aston Oxborough*, Sean Raggett*
2021: Michael McGovern, Carlton Morris, Alex Tettey, Mario Vrancic
2022: Todd Cantwell, Josip Drmic, Philip Heise, Timm Klose, Tim Krul, Moritz Leitner, Kenny Mclean, Lukas Rupp, Marco Stiepermann, Teemu Pukki*, Louis Thompson*, Tom Trybull*
2023: Rocky Bushiri, Sam Byram, Akin Famewo, Grant Hanley, Onel Hernandez, Adam Idah, Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey*, Christoph Zimmermann*
2024: Max Aarons, Emi Buendia, Sam McCallum, Melvin Sitti
- Contracts until end of June (*known one-year option). Not including academy players yet to be involved at senior levels.
- See above for a bonus edition of the Pink Un Podcast as our Canaries correspondents Paddy Davitt and David Freezer discuss Alex Tettey's new contract