Stuart Webber’s verdict on being linked with £15m targets

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber sat down with Paddy Davitt at Colney Picture: Tony Thru

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber sat down with Paddy Davitt at Colney Picture: Tony Thrussell/Archant - Credit: Tony Thrussell

Sporting director Stuart Webber is busier than ever planning for the Premier League. But he found time to sit down with Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt at Colney.

Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis celebrate clinching promotion to the Premier League Picture by Paul Ches

Ben Godfrey and Jamal Lewis celebrate clinching promotion to the Premier League Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Stuart Webber did not have to think too long to come up with the most ridiculous transfer link of Norwich City's close season.

The Canaries' Championship title win and promotion the Premier League has subjected the club's sporting director to a whole new world of rumour and counter-rumour.

"Simon Mignolet. I have to say that made me laugh," said Webber, after City were touted with a £15m move for the Liverpool keeper. "Nothing against him, he is a top keeper, but just the figures.

"That would be the most crazy one I can think of. When I see us linked to keepers for £15m I just smile. Who comes up with this? Why would we do that? It is not right.

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"I have had ludicrous phone calls from agents recommending players. One called me the other day and said, 'I think you can get player X for £120k per week,' and I thought, 'Our squad won't cost that in total per week'.

"I think some people watch the Championship play-off final and hear this £170m figure and they genuinely believe that is sat in a bank account and myself, Daniel (Farke), Ben (Kensell) and Zoe (Ward) are going to go large or go on Amazon and spend it all. That is not the reality.

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"The other thing is if we go and sign a player and give him substantially more than the other lads that could divide our dressing room. We can't do that. We spent a lot of time here creating spirit, culture and togetherness.

"In one fell swoop we could kill that. We have lost players this window already because they don't fit into what we want to do. Okay, so you are not for us. The collective is much more important.

"Unless you can sign (Lionel) Messi or Mo Salah, who would produce every week, the difference between our players and a lot of others is not that different, in terms of attitude and quality."

Webber's numerous conversations with agents is bringing out a new phenomenon, compared to his astute recruitment work during previous transfer windows at Carrow Road.

"It is like a Premier League tax, when you talk about figures. But the players are still worth the same for me as when we were a Championship club," he said. "That is when you have to be strong and robust and willing to move onto the next one. I have had to have conversations since we got promoted saying, 'Thanks, in our opinion he is not worth that'.

"How can I bring in a guy who has not been promoted and pay him more than players in our squad who have? That is why I have huge respect for Spurs. All the noise these past few years about signing players, yet they finished third again, a new stadium, training ground is ridiculous and they are in the Champions League final.

"That is a fingers up to people who say you have to spend. It is so lazy to talk about money.

"What about developing the players you have got and backing them? Can we turn Max, Ben and Jamal into Premier League players. That should be the challenge."

Webber reiterated there will be no major outlay this summer.

"We could do it, but it's like taking out a mortgage for a long time and worrying about it in the future. Is that the right thing for our club? We don't think so, so we won't be doing it," he said. "Everyone told us it would be impossible to do it our way. But we got promoted and we won the league. We didn't scrap through. You are not lucky to just win the league.

"We have to believe that is still the way for this football club.

"Daniel understands that.

"He is not under pressure or going to get the sack if we have a poor start to the Premier League.

"I read a saying the other day which sums us up: invest more time in the root rather than the fruit. That is us, building the foundation and not just worrying about what Saturday, 3pm looks like.

"I don't know the ins and outs at Fulham this past year but it is a great reminder for clubs like ourselves that you can spend £100m and look what happens. It really helps us because people don't want to do that.

"It is about being smart, brave and backing this group. The majority of this group deserve a crack at it. I believe we have players who are good enough to be in the Premier League."

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