Senior duo the chief contract issues for City ahead of new season
Ahead of the new season, David Freezer takes a look at the contract situations at Norwich City as the club continues to revamp Daniel Farke’s squad for a return to the Championship battleground.
As Premier League clubs eye up Norwich City’s best young talent, the forward planning of sporting director Stuart Webber has ensured the Canaries will not be bullied in negotiations.
That’s thanks to long-term contracts for their most valued players after a host of new deals were handed out following the Championship title triumph of 2019.
Wolves and Tottenham have been linked with Max Aarons but the right-back is under contract until 2024, as is Argentine midfielder Emi Buendia, who has been linked with a potential return to Spain with Atletico Madrid or Valencia.
Yet there are few immediate concerns either.
The most high-profile players to have entered the final 12 months of their City terms are midfielders Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic.
It had looked like Tettey’s lengthy stint in Norfolk was moving towards a close but in February the 34-year-old took up the offer of a ninth season with the club.
The search for a long-term successor for the Canaries’ longest-serving current player is still yet to be successful and the former Norway international was still clearly needed by Daniel Farke last season, making 30 top-flight appearances.
Tettey was often wearing the captain’s armband during the injury absences of Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann and was also needed to play in central defence on several occasions due to those defensive injury problems.
Physicality and positioning make the former Rennes midfielder a valuable asset but the arrivals of Jacob Sorensen and Melvin Sitti will bring fresh defensive competition in the middle of the park - which could well dictate whether a tenth season with City is possible.
Vrancic revealed last week that he was expecting to remain with Norwich, despite interest from Bundesliga new boys Arminia Bielefeld in Germany.
The creative force was hugely popular during the club’s last campaign in the Championship, with crucial goals during the surge to the title, but his three years with the Canaries have been regularly disrupted by injuries.
If he can find the form and fitness which evaded him in the Premier League, it would be little surprise to see the offer of a new deal coming his way, but if that consistency cannot be found than an emotional farewell may await at the end of the season.
There are three other players with deals set to expire at the end of June 2021.
Veteran goalkeeper Michael McGovern continues to provide experienced cover, having made just 12 appearances during the last three seasons.
Two of those of course were in the Premier League during 2019-20, as the Northern Ireland international was called upon with Tim Krul out injured when Ralf Fahrmann only managed 22 minutes of a 2-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.
McGovern then saved a penalty against Aston Villa but it was during a 5-1 home defeat to Aston Villa. He then provided cover for Krul throughout the second half of the campaign after Fahrmann’s loan was cut short. Carlton Morris’ long association with Norwich looks likely to come to an end next year, as he rejoins MK Dons in League One for the eighth loan stint of his career so far.
The striker has over 150 senior appearances to his name and will turn 25 in December, so it looks likely that the last of City’s FA Youth Cup winners still with the club will get to add to his solitary senior appearance, which was as a substitute back in March 2015.
The final player is a relatively new name for many City fans, right-back Jordan Thomas - although there is an option for a further 12 months in the 19-year-old’s contract.
Thomas, a former Charlton and Huddersfield trainee, made a brief Premier League debut at the end of the 5-0 thrashing at Manchester City on the final day of last season.
With Sam Byram looking most likely to take over at right-back if Aarons is sold and Thomas also has the challenge of Bali Mumba coming in from Sunderland as competition.
NORWICH CITY CONTRACTS
(* known one-year option)
2021 - McGovern, Morris, Tettey, Thomas*, Vrancic
2022 - Cantwell, Drmic, Heise, Klose, Krul, Leitner, McLean, Oxborough*, Pukki*, Rupp, Stiepermann, Thompson*, Trybull*
2023 - Byram, Dowell, Famewo, Godfrey*, Hanley, Hernandez, Idah, Lewis, Martin, Sinani, Sorensen, Soto, Zimmermann*
2024 - Aarons, Buendia, McCallum, Mumba, Placheta, Sitti