Connor Southwell: Sorting Todd’s contract is City’s next big mission
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s recruitment work over the last three years deserves to be lauded.
Despite not every single one of their new recruits paying off, those that have succeeded have hit heights that few expected when they were photographed holding the yellow and green shirt at Colney.
Transfer windows are becoming increasingly difficult to navigate, and yet City’s recruitment team, albeit small, is making ripples throughout the world of football.
Combine that with a productive academy, and you begin to sew together the major achievements of Stuart Webber’s reign as the Canaries’ sporting director.
Contingency planning is part of his remit. Whether that be to identify and plan for the next head coach, or to plan a pathway for a 16-year-old right-back to achieve first-team football in two years, every decision is taken with measured thinking and endless research.
When Ben Gibson was unveiled as a Norwich player, he highlighted one of City’s major selling points was the body of knowledge they had on his game.
After speaking to local press, he dusted himself down and prepared for a two-hour tactical meeting to fully understand what Daniel Farke, Eddie Riemer and the rest of the coaching staff were going to demand of him.
The standard Farke places on young players is arguably even higher. He does have a strict attitude but it does come from a place of love. A willingness to witness improvement in those talents harvested from the academy and beyond.
Todd Cantwell’s story is perhaps one of the most fascinating.
A local lad, he has been with the club since the age of seven. His pathway to the Carrow Road pitch for the first-team was long.
During that time, he was told he was too small. Not physical enough. Arrogant.
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Some have even opted to hurl abuse at the way he ties up his hair or his dancing on social media. In an era where footballers can be media trained and prevented from sharing their true feelings, we need more characters like Cantwell in the game, not fewer.
He is a young man who Norfolk should champion. Somebody who has worked relentlessly to achieve his goals and is inspiring youngsters all over the county.
On the football pitch, he is judged, and his performances of late are proving his doubters wrong.
What is undeniable, even amongst his major critics, is his talent when in possession of a football. It’s innate.
A loan move to Fortuna Sittard helped him develop his maturity. From homesickness to perseverance and determination, loan manager Neil Adams has spoken before about telling City’s star he had noticed the growth of his mentality.
Credit to Farke and his youth enabling philosophy. After half a season in the Dutch second tier, Cantwell was deemed to be good enough to feature for the Canaries.
There were tough knocks. He did receive unfair criticism. He was given a tough time. Some even wrote him off.
The Premier League was a bigger stage, and Cantwell surfed his way through it. Despite City’s struggles, his creativity was impressive.
After a period of self-reflection and growing up, once again Cantwell is beginning to find top gear in the Championship.
Against Cardiff, he resembled Forrest Gump as he seemed to cover every blade of grass in South Wales. Suddenly, the enjoyment seems to have returned and City are reaping the rewards.
The one concern, however, will be surrounding his contract which has just 18 months left. Although there is a further one year option to provide a layer of extra insurance at this stage for the club if Cantwell continues his upward trajectory.
City will have contingency plans in place. Cantwell himself has made no secret of his lofty ambitions and desire to play Premier League football at the highest level.
Regardless of whether City get there in the next few months, it’s difficult to foresee a situation where the 22-year-old isn’t strutting his stuff in the top-flight, providing he can continue his high-level performances.
Reports have already begun to circulate surrounding clubs monitoring his situation, City cannot afford to lose somebody they have invested so much into for the last 15 years for below his market value.
One thing the Canaries have done masterfully over the last few years is rewarding their young talents with improved contracts regularly.
Emi Buendia and Max Aarons are both tied down to long-term deals, thus driving their valuations up and strengthening the Canaries hand should any potential suitors swoop in.
Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey were also on long-term deals prior to their departures.
Their whole self-sustainable model is predicated on the ability to sell top talents for megabucks.
This summer may prove a pivotal moment. Farke has already highlighted this month the potential for the biggest and best to realistically try and entice one of their best young talents away on terms that would be more suitable than a January window swoop.
Promotion would serve as the perfect opportunity to reward Cantwell’s contributions and ensure he is committed to the Premier League adventure.
Last time his contract talks were prolonged and from the outside difficult, this time, for all parties, there needs to be a swift resolution.
Everybody is aware of his potential, now it’s up to him to ensure it gets fulfilled. Right now, that is best placed at Norwich City.