Could City target any free agents this summer?
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Spotting transfer bargains has been a key part of the success at Norwich City in recent years, so could any of the players available on a free transfer this summer be of interest to the Canaries ahead of their Premier League return?
Teemu Pukki and Tim Krul proved inspired free transfers, Christoph Zimmermann and Tom Trybull certainly proved to be good signings initially but Josip Drmic was a gamble which didn’t pay off.
The term ‘free’ is a bit deceptive to start with, as out-of-contract players can often command better wages and a signing-on fee if they have more than one club chasing their services.
However, with the financial strains created by the Covid-19 pandemic, there is set to be plenty of players available this summer due to clubs cutting their cloth or being unable to offer new deals.
High-profile Premier League players including Sergio Aguero, Georginio Wijnaldum, Christian Benteke and Ryan Bertrand are all set to be available, with uncertainty around 12-month options in the contracts of players including Arsenal defender David Luiz and Chelsea’s World Cup-winning striker Olivier Giroud.
Clearly players of that calibre and financial status are out of reach for a promoted and self-funded club like Norwich, who have just announced that experienced midfield duo Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic will not have their contracts renewed.
The top flight and the Championship could offer some interesting options though.
We’ve kept our search to free agents currently playing in England. Expanding that across Europe and beyond would be another article altogether.
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Loans are another market that City are likely to tap into again as well but, for now, we’ve narrowed down the free agents to players who could be legitimate options.
John Ruddy (Wolves)
It seems likely that Norwich will extend the stay of January signing Orjan Nyland, with the fit-again Norway international having Premier League experience with Aston Villa and seeming a good fit as competition and cover for Tim Krul.
If Nyland does get offered a number one shirt elsewhere though, former Canaries number one Ruddy is out of contract. Since Rui Patricio was signed, the 34-year-old has largely been restricted to cup appearances, making just two Premier League appearances since promotion in 2018.
Adam Smith (Bournemouth)
Lon-serving Cherries full-back recently turned 30 and has over 140 Premier League appearances on his CV.
A typical ‘steady Eddie’ who is capable of playing on the left or right, Smith could fit into the squad of a promoted club nicely, if Bournemouth don’t succeed in the play-offs.
He would need to apologise for his late tackle on Grant Hanley at Carrow Road recently though.
Alex Mowatt (Barnsley)
Named in the Championship Team of the Season at the recent EFL Awards, the central midfielder has been a key part of Barnsley’s impressive charge into the Championship play-offs, with the Tykes skipper, 27, having eight goals and seven assists to his names from 44 games.
The left-footed former Leeds man was also shortlisted for Goal of the Season for a brilliant strike against Millwall earlier this season.
Nick Powell (Stoke)
The 27-year-old attacking midfielder has proven he is over his injury problems with 12 goals and three assists in 39 Championship games this season.
The Manchester United youth product has clear quality on the ball and has been a key player for the Potters and Wigan, scoring an impressive 46 goals in his last five seasons, mostly playing centrally behind the striker but also as the lead man himself at times – scoring an easy goal as Stoke were beaten 4-1 at Carrow Road in February, after a Dimitris Giannoulis mistake.
Josh King (Everton)
The Norway international forward, 29, joined the Toffees from Bournemouth in January with his contract expiring in a short-term deal that could be extended this summer.
However, King has been restricted to appearances from the bench, failing to score in 10 – often brief – cameos. Previously scored 48 goals in 161 top-flight games for Bournemouth, likely to expect big wages though.
Andre Ayew (Swansea)
Another forward option where wages could be too high, with the Daily Mail previously reporting the Ghana international was on £90,000 per week in the top flight.
However, he is 31 now and City could offer him another Premier League opportunity and his playing style would make for great competition with Teemu Pukki.
With 15 goals in 42 league matches this season, the former Marseille and West Ham forward has been a key part of the Swans’ play-off chase, showing his pace and power as Norwich were beaten 2-0 in South Wales in February.
A few former City players are set to be available, Alex Pritchard and Robbie Brady being the most high-profile.
Pritchard’s £11million move to Huddersfield has led to his prospects rather going off the boil, although he is only 28 and could suit Daniel Farke’s style of play.
Ireland international Brady, 29, earned a £13m move to Burnley in January 2017 having impressed for City in the top flight but has struggled to recover fully since missing almost a year with a knee injury, starting 12 league games for the Clarets this season.
Bradley Johnson (34) and Elliott Bennett (32) are unlikely to be stepping up to the top flight this summer, while former loanee Henri Lansbury (30) has been enduring a fairly miserable loan at Bristol City ahead of his Aston Villa deal expiring.
Elsewhere in the Championship, links with Jordan Rhodes have finally died down after the striker’s memorable loan stint of 2018-19. The 31-year-old has scored seven goals during Sheffield Wednesday’s survival scrap this season.
Other second-tier players set to be out of contract this summer who are unlikely to fit the Norwich model include Jack Wilshere, Junior Stanislas (Bournemouth), Sammy Ameobi (Forest) and Barry Bannan (Wednesday), while Boro striker Britt Assombalonga is reportedly close to signing for Rangers.
Luton’s defensive midfielder Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, 27, is another player the Canaries have been linked with during the final months of his deal.
In December, the Daily Mail claimed that Norwich were among the clubs monitoring Emiliano Marcondes but the Danish midfielder, 26, has mostly been on the fringes at Brentford this season.
- Are there any free agents you think City should consider? Let us know in the comments below