Norwich City transfer rumours: Baggies set to sign winger and keep hold of midfield talent

PUBLISHED: 10:09 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:41 02 July 2019

West Brom midfielder Rekeem Harper, left, battling with Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis during a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

West Brom midfielder Rekeem Harper, left, battling with Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis during a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns last season Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Championship side West Brom have reportedly beaten Norwich City to the signing of Benfica attacking midfielder Filip Krovinovic.

West Midlands newspaper the Express & Star report that the 23-year-old Croatian will fly to England for a medical this week and seal a season-long loan.

The report claims the Baggies will pay a £300,000 loan fee and could have to pay a further bonus if they achieve promotion next season, with former Croatia and West Ham boss Slaven Bilic now in charge at The Hawthorns.

Norwich, Vitória Guimarães and Hajduk Split were all offered as possible loan destinations for Krovinovic in the Portuguese media in recent weeks, as the Benfica ace aims to recover from an injury-affected last season.

The Express & Star also claim that the arrival of Bilic has been enough to persuade academy talent Rekeem Harper to remain with the Baggies, after talks with his new boss, and that a four-year contract could be signed.

The 19-year-old, who is an England U19 colleague of Canaries star Max Aarons, is out of contract and has been linked with Tottenham, Celtic and Norwich this summer - but has returned for pre-season training with West Brom.

Harper was a regular during the second half of the campaign for the Baggies and helped reach the play-offs, only to be beaten by local rivals Aston Villa in the semi-finals.

Norwich City were reportedly interested in West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez, right 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesNorwich City were reportedly interested in West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez, right Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Another link with the Baggies saw City among the clubs linked to striker Jay Rodriguez, due to a clause in his contract reportedly making him available for an initial £5million after missing out on promotion, with another £5m potentially due in add-on fees.

Burnley, Leicester, Cyrstal Palace, Bournemouth and Sheffield United have also been linked to the 29-year-old, who scored 22 goals in 45 matches last season and who has two years left on his contract

However, West Brom technical director Luke Dowling is hopeful Rodriguez will shun the top-flight interest, telling the Express & Star: "Jay had a great season, he's really settled in the area, his family are here. Last year was one of his best in terms of game time.

"He recognises the support the club have given him over the years. He's not indicated to us that he's in a rush to move. There's always going to be speculation, but he was in Monday (for pre-season) with a smile on his face, the normal Jay that we know.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he was here on August 9."

VERDICT: The signing of Josip Drmic has probably already finished any of City's interest in striker Rodriguez, with the return of Jordan Rhodes as a third striker option a much more likely scenario to unfold.

Harper however would seem to be in-demand and could well be a fine signing for the Canaries, but he would be unlikely to see regular first-team action in the Premier League this season.

With West Brom seemingly set to make their academy product a key part of their plans for the new campaign, he could well see that as a far better option than joining a top-flight team and then going out on loan.

Bilic would appear to be the key to the Krovinovic situation and with the Baggies likely to offer solid guarantees to the Benfica man about game time, that could well have tipped the scales in their favour.

A player with top-level talent but a patchy record, so would have had to force his way into the team at City, competing with the likes of Emi Buendia, Marco Stiepermann and Patrick Roberts.

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