Lansbury loves Norwich City but admits Arsenal place is his aim

Loan star Henri Lansbury has spoken of the “great honour” of being involved in Norwich City’s promotion campaign – but wants to be part of Arsenal’s first team plans next season.

The 20-year-old midfielder featured in exactly half of the Canaries’ 46 Championship matches, starting 15 of them, and scored four goals to help them back to the Premier League after an absence of six years.

Lansbury admits he became attached to the club and felt very much part of the promotion-winning team under manager Paul Lambert, but in an interview with the Official Arsenal Magazine, he makes clear his aim to become a regular in the Gunners’ midfield next term.

“I just want to try and force my way into the Arsenal side next season,” he said.

“I have to come back raring to go, to be strong and try and take my place. I’m ready to prove myself here, and show the boss that I’m ready to be in the first team.”

During more than five months with Norwich, the England Under-21 international kept closely in touch with events at the Emirates Stadium, where Arsene Wenger’s men were challenging for four trophies at one stage of the season but ended with none.

“It’s been a funny season, really – we went through a sticky patch, as everyone knows, but we’ll come out of the other side stronger and can only learn from it. Hopefully next season we’ll push strongly for the title again,” he said.

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“You can see the positives in the young guys’ performances – Jack Wilshere has come a long way this season and I think going out on loan helped him improve massively. Aaron Ramsey is fit and strong again too, as you saw when he scored against (Manchester) United. Hopefully we can all push on again come August.”

Lansbury has experienced some unforgettable moments, however, since arriving at Carrow Road on loan in November.

“This has been my toughest season, from start to finish,” he said. “Finishing it off on the open-top bus with Norwich celebrating promotion – well, I just can’t believe that this has happened at such a young age. A few years ago I was playing football in the park with my dad and now my dreams have started to come true.

“In my very first training session I could see that the standard was high and thought ‘This team can do something’.

“In the end we showed that throughout every game – we were able to pull through and get results, scoring some very late goals and demonstrating the confidence we had. We believed that we could win every game. It’s a great team spirit there, starting with the manager and backroom staff – everyone’s together and it was fantastic to be promoted.”

Lansbury described Lambert as “a great manager”.

He said: “He has a serious side but also knows how to have a laugh at the right time. He’s been there and won things as a player, and I owe a lot to him for giving me the chance to play.

“He’ll give you a rollicking when you need one but he instils loads of belief in players and gives you important self-confidence.”

The night City clinched promotion with a 1-0 win at Portsmouth – immediately after rivals Cardiff’s home defeat by Middlesbrough – provided a special memory.

“We were watching the Cardiff game in the hotel,” he said.

“Everyone was in their own room, but as soon as Middlesbrough scored you could hear the screams coming out from all down the corridor! I think that instilled a lot of belief into us and we went into the game on a high.

“Portsmouth is a hard place to go and get a point, let alone a win, but we saw it through and it was a great honour to be involved.

“You can’t explain the feeling when the final whistle goes and the team you’re playing for gets promoted. Seeing the away support at the end was unbelievable – and I don’t think it will all sink in for them until they come to Emirates, Old Trafford and all these places next season.”

Lansbury said he felt very much at home at Norwich despite his loan status.

He said: “Obviously you have to think of it as your job but I did get attached to the club and felt strongly that I was part of the team, which I think is what you want from a loan player.

“You want to know someone’s coming in to be a team player, not just to play a few games and get fit.

“It’s been a great time at Norwich and I can’t thank everyone there enough.”

Lansbury was given permission to join the Norwich players on their end-of-season trip to Las Vegas but could yet have important business this summer in the UEFA Under-21 Championships in Denmark, where he hopes to play alongside Arsenal clubmates Wilshere and Kieran Gibbs.