Jonny Howson’s exit may be difficult to stomach for fans but Norwich City can cash in on a prized asset
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Supporters have been expecting Norwich City’s squad to be given a total makeover this summer but few were expecting midfielder Jonny Howson to be part of those radical changes.
Now it seems the popular Yorkshireman could be on his way though, after turning down a new contract and his agent informing the Canaries that the former Leeds captain is not willing to commit his long-term future to the club.
The consistent midfielder turned 29 last month and has two years remaining on a contract signed following City’s promotion to the Premier League in 2015.
While that means Howson is in the peak years of his career, it also means he is likely to be on higher wages than the Canaries will be able to offer new signings after missing out on a return to the top flight last season.
Managing director Steve Stone has made clear that finances are in good order at Carrow Road but that player sales will be needed if purchases are to be made ahead of next season.
Head coach Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber are now getting stuck in to the construction of a squad capable of refreshing the club’s prospects on the pitch, which will operate in a clear playing style that has been missing in recent seasons.
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Losing Howson is unlikely to have been part of their plans but it seems unwise to include a player who wants to leave, if they are to truly revamp City’s fortunes on the pitch.
The consistency displayed by the determined midfielder, as well as his grounded personality, have made Howson one of the most popular players at Carrow Road – and his total of 24 goals in 188 appearances places him 76th in the club’s all-time appearances list.
Yet his service over more than five years since being signed for around £2.5million by Paul Lambert in January 2012 means few supporters would begrudge him a return north with his young family, if that is his desire.
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The two years remaining leaves City with two options: tell Howson to lump it and do what he is paid for, or accept his exit as part of the revamp and ensure full market value for a prized asset – who should bring in upwards of £6m.
Whether Leeds have the funds to take one of their youngest ever captains back to Elland Road remains to be seen, following yet another change in ownership.
Huddersfield have been promoted to the top flight but are not expected to speculate too much money during their first top-flight adventure.
Middlesbrough, Hull and Sunderland both return to the Championship with parachute payments in their back pockets and Burnley boss Sean Dyche has been a reported admirer in the past, and now has plenty of Premier League cash to play with.
While Sheffield Wednesday and Derby County have already shown their financial muscle in the second tier and can offer Howson greater proximity to life in Yorkshire, having been born and raised in Morley, south of Leeds.
Those options could well help Norwich to get a good deal for a player they still don’t have to sell – and who would undoubtedly still give his all should he still be a City player at the start of the season.
His exit may well be a frustrating one to stomach but these are unprecedented times at Carrow Road.
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