Connor Southwell: What now for City’s ‘crown jewels’ after Lewis departure?
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The first major exit of the summer transfer window was confirmed with Jamal Lewis’ departure for Newcastle. Connor Southwell looks at what could happen next for the Canaries.
Norwich City have historically been a club who depart with their top talent.
There are numerous names across a wide-range of eras that still provoke a sense of hurt when their names are uttered in City circles.
Be it Chris Sutton, Craig Bellamy or Robert Green – fill to your particular feelings – the Canaries have always been a selling club.
In reality, every club is a selling club – your best talent is always susceptible to being cherry picked by bigger fish – that’s not a matter of ambition but the reality of the footballing circles City operate within.
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Of course, the wider debate about ownership will always underscore any discussion – but even clubs with deep pockets often see their top talent depart.
Jamal Lewis is the latest name to leave Norfolk for pastures new and whilst supporters’ reactions have been tinged with sadness, there is an acceptance that the fee received does make the sale more palatable. A sum of £15million represents the work the Canaries have put into Lewis’ development since he arrived as a starry-eyed 16-year-old from Luton Town in 2014.
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In numerous ways, he typifies the Farke era at Carrow Road. Prior to the German’s arrival, Lewis was unknown, then given a chance before excelling and moving on for City’s second recorded highest fee.
The focus will now shift away from Lewis and onto the remaining youngsters at the club – the ones that have been left watching as one of their friends makes the next step in his career.
Lewis is further down the line than City’s other youngsters. He has 100 senior City appearances to his name – more than any of the players to be included in that ‘crown jewel’ category.
City’s buy to sell policy adopted so far in this window means any prospective deal that emerges can be meticulously analysed with the benefit of knowing they have the replacements already in the building should they wish to sell – see Xavi Quintilla. The Canaries won’t find themselves in a frenzy of panic should another of those highly-rated players depart.
Buendia is the one that supporters would be most disappointed to see leave, although there is an acceptance that his technical ability is far superior of the level the Canaries find themselves at.
There is a balance to be struck however, City cannot sell all of those players. If they hope to mount a promotion challenge, then ensuring they have quality in abundance is going to be pivotal.
Should Buendia, Cantwell, Aarons or Godfrey also move on – then Farke will be left with a weaker set of options at his disposal and other players will be left questioning the true ambition of the club.
Whether any of those aforementioned players have their hearts set on a move remains to be seen, but togetherness and squad harmony are such important ingredients to any team who has success in the Championship.
Unlike in previous instances where City have moulded high-value players, the current crop owe their success to the trust of the club – Webber and Farke will be hoping to see them repay that this season.
Fundamentally, if City can emerge from the end of the transfer window having retained more of those young players than they’ve sold, then they will find themselves in a healthy position both financially and competitively.
After such strong public messaging surrounding their need not to sell – to go and do the contrary would prove damaging to their public relations with the supporters.
Striking that equilibrium and ensuring those who remain fire on all cyclinders will be the toughest task of all, but if they can attain it – then most will tip them for success again.