Barnett has new goal with Norwich City - and there could be three more on the way
AUDIO: Defender Leon Barnett has no intention of resting on his laurels after securing a permanent move to Norwich City.
The 25-year-old centre-back will become a City player on a full-time basis in January after manager Paul Lambert agreed a fee with West Bromwich Albion – an undisclosed price but one he described as “an absolute steal”.
Barnett has been given a 3�-year deal as a reward for some impressive displays in his 17 first team outings since arriving on loan in August.
Lambert has three more new signings in his sights in the January transfer window as he bids to maintain the Canaries’ top six challenge in the Championship.
Barnett, meanwhile, is not taking his place alongside Elliott Ward in the centre of defence for granted and believes Michael Nelson, Jens Berthel Askou and the injury-hit Zak Whitbread are three good reasons to keep performing to the same standard.
“There is great competition here with Jens and ‘Nels’ coming back to fitness and Zak, who’s still injured, so there are still a lot of boys who can play with Wardy. I just need to get my head down and keep my position,” he said.
“It’s a positive thing now my future is clear and I can concentrate on playing.
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“It’s good to be part of the team. It doesn’t really feel like I’ve just joined because when I first came the boys made me feel welcome. From now I feel like I’m a proper player.
“I think we’re going in the right direction. We’re doing well in the league and I hope we can get a Cup run and you never know what could happen at the end of the season.
“It’s good to come to a team that’s going the right way, a big club doing well, and I think it would be stupid to turn down the move.
“For the manager to call me in the office and say ‘Are you interested in a permanent move?’ I was over the moon.”
Barnett joined Albion in 2007 in a �2.5m move from Luton and helped them lift the Championship title in his first season.
He said: “When I went to West Brom it might have been a move too early, but as a player you dream of moves like that and going straight to the Premier League. That’s where everyone wants to play – in the best league in the world. But it didn’t work out the last two seasons. The manager brought in players and you have to move on and try to play somewhere else.
“I went to Coventry on loan last year and wasn’t really in the team there. I was just about making the bench so I was a bit disappointed, so you have to move on to bigger and better things.”
Lambert said of Barnett: “The biggest compliment I can give him is for someone who came on loan, you would have thought from day one that he was ours permanently, the way he’s been playing.
“Getting him for the money we got him for is, in my view, an absolute steal for us.”
Lambert said he had tried to sign Barnett last season.
“I knew about Leon and Ian (Culverhouse) and I spoke last year about him,” he said. “This year we were fortunate enough to do it and he’s come in and it’s not just his general footballing play, as a guy he’s a top bloke. If you’re talking about people putting their body on the line for you, you’d certainly go with him.”
Now the City boss wants three more new faces before the end of the January window.
“I’ve told the board the players that I want in so they know,” said Lambert. “I need players in. First and foremost we have to get to that magic figure to keep us in the league and then if we’re still hovering about, we have to go for it.
“To go for it I need players in here to give that group a hand. People shouldn’t think that we’ve loads of money all over the place but I hope we get a hand and I’m sure we will.
“If we’re doing OK and we’re still up near the top, we have to try to do everything we can. That’s the ambition of everyone, the backroom staff and the players.
“The lads who I want to come in, they would be huge for us. But I need players in - three more. We have to keep improving the squad and driving on. You never stand still, that’s for sure.”