Norwich City transfer rumours: No bid but Barcelona interest in Aarons is genuine
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Reports that Barcelona have approached Norwich City about the possibility of signing Max Aarons are thought to be correct, however it’s understood no firm bid of £20million has been made by the European giants.
The England Under-21 international had already been linked with a global name in Bayern Munich, no less, this year as one of the most experienced players in his age group on the continent.
But this morning The Athletic reported that Barcelona have had two bids for the 20-year-old turned down since the Canaries were relegated from the Premier League.
Aarons is under contract until 2024 having made 84 appearances for City so far, playing all of a 1-0 win at Huddersfield on the opening weekend of the Championship season having played the most minutes of any of the Norwich outfield players in the top flight last season.
Transfer expert David Ornstein claims that the youngster’s representatives had already agreed personal terms with the five-time European champions and that one of the bids could have been worth £20million plus potential add-on fees.
Aarons has also been linked with interest from Tottenham, Wolves, Aston Villa and Bayer Leverkusen this year, having been named EFL Young Player of the Season and in the Championship Team of the Season in 2019, after Norwich had won the second tier title.
The report arrived just hours before Daniel Farke’s team are due to play their first home game of the season, against Preston.
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Aarons has so far won seven caps for the England U21s, including playing all of a 6-0 win in Kosovo earlier this month, setting up one of the goals with a tricky burst into the box.
Ornstein goes on to claim that Barca have now turned their attentions to Ajax 19-year-old Sergino Dest, a USA international.
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However, the plot thickened with the contribution of Sky Sports’ transfer man Kaveh Solhekol, who claimed the Catalans wanted to take Aarons on loan initially but that this was dismissed by City as there was no obligation to buy.
Athletic reporter Ornstein clarified that Barcelona’s first bid was a loan with an option to buy, but no financial penalties based on appearances, with the second a loan with an option to buy but including those financial penalties if Aarons isn’t getting game time.
It’s understood that City would only accept a loan proposition with an obligation to buy - with the Spaniards’ president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealing in July that the club were preparing for a loss of expected income of around 200 million euros due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The transfer deadline for English clubs to do business with European clubs is 11pm on Monday, October 5 - although a domestic window then continues until 5pm on Friday, October 16.
Although sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Farke wasted no time in revamping their squad, bringing in 11 players, the only sale so far was left-back Jamal Lewis joining Newcastle in a deal worth an initial £15m.
Aarons, Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey and Emi Buendia have all been linked with big moves during this year, becoming known by many as the ‘crown jewels’ of the Canaries squad.
VERDICT: Aarons’ representatives have proven themselves to be busy ever since he burst onto the scene during the 2018-19 season, with a succession of bigger clubs linked.
The speedy right-back has forged a big reputation already and has shown little evidence of agitating for a move or being disruptive, remaining very much a popular player in City’s squad.
However, any player in the Championship is clearly going to want the option to join Barcelona - and the opportunity to play alongside arguably the greatest player of all time in Lionel Messi.
Barca may have endured a disappointing couple of years but with Messi set to stay, Ronald Koeman appointed as boss and a rejuvenation of their squad to try and reignite their challenge in Spain and the Champions League, it would be a hugely exciting time to join a global heavyweight.
Such a move would also come with a great deal of pressure and expectation for the Milton Keynes-born prospect, so he would need to feel ready to make such a big step up.
Yet whether he ends up with Barca or not, the news coming out suggests his representatives have their eyes on a move before the transfer window closes.
It follows on from yesterday’s update from Farke that Sam Byram will not return from his hamstring injury until January, leaving inexperienced summer signing Bali Mumba as the next option, with Lukas Rupp also capable of playing at right-back.
While many will be surprised to see City turning down bids from Barcelona, Webber proved he would not be forced into selling below his valuation last month when he rejected a deal of £10m from Liverpool for Lewis, to eventually get the better deal from Newcastle.
The suggestion of Ajax full-back Dest is particularly interesting, given that many saw Liverpool’s bid for Lewis as a way of driving down the price for Kostas Tsimikas, the left-back they eventually signed from Olympiakos for around £12million.
The Canaries are in a stable financial position despite their Premier League relegation and do not need to sell, even when factoring in a loss of £12million in expected income, due to the impact of Covid-19 and behind-closed-doors games.
So a loan deal with no guarantee of a big fee being involved looks unlikely to be enough to seal a deal, even if it is Barcelona.