Sargent's battle to win over USA supporters despite bright first impressions with City

Josh Sargent of Norwich has a shot on goal during the Carabao Cup Second Round match at Carrow Road,

Josh Sargent has made a positive first impression since arriving at Norwich City from Werder Bremen. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

A phone call from Daniel Farke proved enough to persuade Josh Sargent to swap Werder Bremen for the Premier League with Norwich City. 

During City's pursuit of any player, Farke often holds a phone call with the targets to map out their role in the team in an attempt to convince them to come to Carrow Road. Sargent was no different. 

Farke's calls have proved persuasive this summer. Mathias Normann was initially unsure about joining the Canaries but was sold the project by City's head coach during a lengthy conversation on the phone.

Sargent, as well as Farke, also spoke to USA coach Gregg Berhalter who advised him to 'bet on himself' and head to the Premier League.

Sargent was waiting for a move to progress after Werder Bremen's relegation but would have been content with remaining at the Weserstadion this season had City not have stepped up their interest in recruiting him. 

After two goals in the opening two matches for the River Islanders, many felt staying at the German club would have benefited his career more than a move overseas. The allure of the Premier League and the project Farke and Norwich sold to Sargent was enough to tempt him into a move. 

That said, he did contemplate remaining with Bremen until January in the hope that a consistent amount of game time and regular goals would see teams reignite their interest in January. 

Most Read

“It (staying) definitely crossed my mind,” Sargent said. “I had a long talk about it with my agent, just because we didn’t know if 1,000 percent I would get an offer high enough that Bremen wanted, so I had to be prepared for staying there.

"Actually, after I scored those two goals against Düsseldorf, I was like, ‘Okay, maybe I could rack up a lot of goals and that would make teams even more interested come winter or next summer.’

“It was a long summer, just in terms of talking with other teams and trying to figure out what I wanted to do.

“Obviously, I liked my situation in Bremen. I was getting a lot of minutes. It was unfortunate that we went to the second league, and I think because of that, I really saw myself playing in a first league somewhere.

“I just think they really like to play attractive football, keeping the ball on the ground and playing through teams and scoring goals,” Sargent told the Washington Post. “So it’s just different from my experience in Bremen.“

Sargent has made quite the first impression at City, netting twice in their 6-0 League Cup thumping over Bournemouth. His brief appearances from the bench have been bright and he went close to scoring against Leicester last weekend. 

Despite all the positivity at club level, he has split opinion among fans of his international side and Sargent was tasked with leading the line for their World Cup qualifier away to El Salvador overnight. 

The 21-year-old was involved in the majority of the positive attacking play shown by the US going forward but failed to get any of his four shots on target.

Those statistics have seen him criticised in some circles of social media, but USA coach Berhalter opted to praise his on-pitch contribution rather than simply bemoan his lack of goals. 

“In terms of Josh, I think he had a good start to the game, a couple of good runs behind the backline, was in the penalty box, was occupying space in the penalty box, almost got onto the end of a couple crosses, had some good transition moments, I thought in both halves of the game. Unfortunately, didn't get the goal," he told the MLS website.

Friday's fixture was his 17th senior appearance for his country and he has scored five goals. Since Jozy Altidore's been overlooked, Sargent has been the preferred option as the country's striker. 

Fans of the USA bemoan the lack of quality surrounding him, especially when Chelsea winger Christian Pulisic is unavailable. 

Josh Sargent of Norwich rues a missed chance during the Carabao Cup Second Round match at Carrow Roa

Josh Sargent of Norwich rues a missed chance during the Carabao Cup Second Round match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 24/08/2021 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

City's forward was replaced by Jordan Siebatcheu on the hour mark as Berhalter searched for a shift of emphasis that may result in a victory. 

Sargent will be involved for his country as they prepare for two more qualifiers against Canada on Monday before a trip to Honduras on Thursday morning, just over 48 hours before Norwich travel to Arsenal. 

The expectation is that Sargent will be able to play a role at the Emirates, although there is realism about the length of his journey back to the UK and the impact that may have on his fitness. 

NCFC Extra: Five things we learned from City’s busy international evening

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter