Rhodes still an ideal fit for City despite arrival of fellow striker Drmic
Following the addition of Josip Drmic to Norwich City’s striker options, David Freezer takes a closer look at the results of our latest pinkun.com poll about the potential return of Jordan Rhodes.
The return of Jordan Rhodes to Norwich City was looking likely this summer. That was before the arrival of Switzerland international Josip Drmic though.
Now the striker situation is looking rather different, with Drmic arriving on a free transfer as he parts ways with German side Borussia Monchengladbach, to compete with City's prolific front-man Teemu Pukki.
The Finland international looks certain to start the season as the Canaries' leading option in the Premier League following an award-laden debut campaign, scoring 30 goals and being named Championship Player of the Season.
Pukki was ably supported by Rhodes though, with the 29-year-old scoring nine in 40 matches during a season-long loan from Sheffield Wednesday - and the results of our latest poll suggest plenty of supporters are still hoping Rhodes will return.
That included crucial goals in victories over Aston Villa and Millwall, as well as a late equaliser at West Brom, as Daniel Farke's squad won the Championship title.
Those efforts ensured Rhodes was a popular player with Canaries fans and both Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber spoke highly of the player's positive attitude and team ethic.
However, with Wednesday reportedly looking for around £7million for a striker they paid £10m for in 2017, despite having just one year left on his contract, Webber said earlier this month it was looking likely City wouldn't be able to strike a deal.
Rhodes is understood to be desperate to remain in Norfolk though and those comments may well have been all part of the transfer dance, as the Norwich chief called the Owls' bluff.
Yet with Drmic now signed - and with eight fewer games in the Premier League than in the Championship - there could well be a high-calibre obstacle in the Scotland international's path should he return.
That will depend on the Swiss 26-year-old recovering full fitness though after a frustrating three seasons of limited action due to injury, having been competing for the Bundesliga golden boot in 2013-14 while with Nuremberg.
German striker Dennis Srbeny is also in the mix, having been kept on the fringes of last season's success by Pukki and Rhodes, scoring three goals in 20 games but with all 15 of his league appearances coming as a substitute. The 25-year-old is under contract until at least 2021 but is yet to make a real impact since his arrival from Paderborn in January 2018, for a reported £1.3million, having impressed in the German third tier.
Can Srbeny now compete with Pukki and Drmic or does he need a loan move to get his career back on track?
If a loan at a good level could be secured and Srbeny can start finding the back of the net regularly, he would be in a much better position to push for involvement at City - particularly if the club is heading back to the Championship.
That would also potentially leave a vacancy for highly-rated Republic of Ireland Under-21 international Adam Idah.
The 18-year-old impressed with 13 goals in 24 matches for City's under-23s last season to earn a nomination for the Player of the Season award in Premier League Two. He also swept the board in the club's academy awards and has scored four goals during his first six games for the Ireland U21s, helping to reach the semi-finals at the Toulon Tournament this summer.
The youngster looks likely to get chances to impress in pre-season and already has the physical attributes required but could well be better served by a loan deal, although that could well be in January after some cup chances.
Farke is expected to continue mostly playing with a lone striker in the Premier League, following his team's title triumph in the Championship, so it seems City will again largely operate with three main striker options.
Nelson Oliveira is not expected to return to contention, having spent the second half of last season on loan at Reading, after Webber and Farke had previously made it clear that they expect the Portugal international to leave.
All of which leaves Rhodes as an ideal candidate to complete the striker roster for next season, if a more affordable deal can be struck with Wednesday.
Pukki averaged a goal every 129 minutes in all competitions last season but Rhodes wasn't far behind with one every 135, thanks to three cup goals, and Srbeny averaged a goal every 194.
Drmic, for what it's worth, has scored six in the 19 appearances he has managed in the last two frustrating seasons - finding the back of the net on average of every 114 minutes.
- POLL RESULT
Who would you prefer as competition for striker Pukki and Drmic at Norwich City this season?
Jordan Rhodes - 42pc
Adam Idah - 35pc
Dennis Srbeny - 12pc
Other - 11pc
(over 2,000 voters took part)