City report card: Max Aarons: City’s star man looks every inch a Premier League player
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Little under two years ago, Max Aarons was a name very few Norwich City supporters were familiar with. Now, the 20-year-old is being touted with some of the world’s biggest clubs.
Bayern Munich are the latest admirers according to reports in Germany - but the Canaries should see these pieces of speculation as a compliment to their developmental qualities rather than an unnecessary nuisance.
The right-back may have been nurtured at Luton Town, but it’s in Norfolk where he’s graduated, and it with City supporters that the pride lies.
When Aarons does eventually depart Carrow Road, he will be cast as the poster boy for the academy and his narrative will be adopted as a selling point to attract talent into their youth system.
As a full-back, he is integral to Daniel Farke’s philosophy.
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His athleticism and offensive intelligence ensured the tactical philosophy Farke devised was successful in practice. Aarons technical qualities match up with a set of physical tools that will be attractive to prospective buyers.
Alongside the German champions, Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have all been touted with City’s right-back - a sign of just how far he has come in the last two years.
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From little know full-back to European Golden Boy nominee - Aarons’ rise has been meteoric, City possess a talent capable of impacting the game at a very high level.
But Aarons isn’t a player capable of being swept away by rumours or noise. At heart, there is a modest young man who continues to fall in love with the game.
The speculation that surrounds Aarons is something that has persisted throughout the season, and Farke moved to quash the rumours in January.
“Max is a young guy and he still has four-and-a-half years of his contract left. I think it’s not the right time for him to even think about a move.
“I would also be doubtful when too many clubs are linked with him. He is totally at the right place here, he’s played nearly 20 Premier League games, now leave him alone and let him play some football.”
At 20, Aarons still has a large portion of his career to navigate - but his willingness to remain in the top-flight will dictate whether he opts to leave Carrow Road.
His price tag has proliferated, his performances consistent - but there is still so much work to go before he reaches his potential.
Positionally, Aarons still requires work. But the raw components could be developed into a top talent.
City entered the top-flight with an extremely inexperienced defence, including Aarons. The final statistics tell the story - City conceded 75 goals, more than any other side in the league.
Aarons wasn’t solely culpable for that return - but his involvement in a City side that lacks defensive resilience does pose some questions.
Along with Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis, the full-back has been raved about, yet they all feature in the leakiest defensive unit in the division.
City’s lack of structure and balance as a team heavily contributed to their lack of resolve.
Aarons in particular has had to contend with the erratic genius of Emi Buendia - meaning he’s had to err on the side of caution and choose his moments to push forward.
These small details will help Aarons refine his game further - at City his education will continue - some will argue his development is better served to another season in the Championship with the Canaries.
Following a turnover of possession, Aarons and Lewis are often too far out of position to recover in time, but their athleticism does allow them to support the Canaries defensive efforts when the ball is lost in transition.
His ability to receive the ball on the half-turn and progress City up the pitch with the ball are assets that bigger sides will be ticking on their scout reports.
When the time does come for the 20-year-old to search for pastures new, then picking a side who will allow him a degree of expression will be pivotal. City’s culture is one that encourages their young players to make mistakes, knowing that they will become better players in the future.
Stuart Webber has issued warning shots to City’s youngsters - don’t move on too soon.
But it’s hard to disagree that Aarons looks every inch a Premier League player.
Both of City’s key figureheads have discussed players potentially outgrowing the club - it seems the star man on the right has accelerated to a level that means his ceiling is currently above that which the Canaries can offer.