Michael Bailey: Norwich City’s new man Christoph Zimmermann is only the start
- Credit: Archant
Three out and now the first one in – Michael Bailey looks at what Norwich City’s new centre-back Christoph Zimmermann means for the bigger defensive picture at Carrow Road.
Clichés can stick because more often than not they hold truth – that may well be the first stop for Norwich City fans as they contemplate signing number four of their summer.
As former City hero and Burnley’s new head of European recruitment Ian Butterworth told me earlier in the week, new managers tend to start by raiding the markets they know.
Therefore the decision of new City head coach and former Borussia Dortmund II trainer Daniel Farke to bring in 24-year-old centre-back Christoph Zimmermann – also known as Borussia Dortmund II’s out of contract captain – would never have taken much of a leap.
However, these quotes continue to ring in my ears – from my conversation with Ruhr Nachrichten’s BVB II correspondent Tobias Johren as Farke’s unveiling at Carrow Road approached last month: “I don’t think they have players in the fourth tier of Germany who could help in the Championship. They are good players here but I would be really surprised if that happens.”
And yet it has, which is where some context will help fill the gaps as City try to solve a jigsaw puzzle that comes with 100 different pieces – but you only need four to finish it. It’s enough to give anyone a headache.
Zimmermann will be called upon during his time at the Canaries. Having been captain at BVB II and with a reputation for what is often simply referred to as ‘being a good pro’, the centre-back will arrive as someone Farke and Norwich will expect to be able to rely on.
It was similar to what City were looking for from Lincoln defender and reported Premier League target Sean Raggett, although the slot he would have taken in the Canaries’ defensive pecking order now looks to have been occupied by Zimmermann.
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But it’s the rest of the picture that will most likely be termed City’s front line defensive option come the regular Championship rigours.
Skipper Russell Martin won’t be going anywhere, while Timm Klose remains on the books for as long as potential suitors keep their money in their pockets.
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It could be Klose’s departure that instigates Krystian Bielik’s loan arrival from Arsenal, if both clubs agree a deal – or the 19-year-old Poland Under-21 international could make the move regardless. He may even excel to greater heights while back home for this summer’s European Under-21 Championships.
What should be expected is that City’s centre-back recruitment is not going to be limited to the names we have already heard. There is room for a more established defender to enter the fray – and that is likely to rise higher and higher in the summer priorities as the weeks pass and next season creeps more clearly into view.
But for now, in Zimmermann the Canaries have an extra body in the building. A character they would back to be strong in the air and strong in his mentality.
For the weakest part of their squad after the release of three centre-backs in May alone, that was a necessary starting point. And as ever, we now move immediately on to the really big question: Who’s next?