Lee Payne: My ideal transfer window for Norwich City
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Happy new year. Norwich City begin 2021 top of the Championship table and on course for an immediate return to that great enigma, the Premier League.
It’s all going much better than I expected. Time to place a few bumps in the road, then – it’s January and with it comes the dreaded transfer window.
It seems likely that the club will spend the month trying its best to hold onto its marquee players rather than concerning itself too much with adding to the squad. The following is my take on what should happen before deadline day.
I remain pleasantly surprised with the lack of interest from other clubs in Tim Krul. I don’t often get to say this, but I think in the Dutchman we have the best goalkeeper in the Championship. The announcement on Christmas Day that he had signed a new contract was a terrific piece of business. As we know, Krul limped off in the game at Stoke in November and only made his return against Barnsley on Saturday. His absence was eased by his able deputy Michael McGovern but there was a palpable sense of calm in the defence with Krul back between the posts.
Krul’s return came at the right time, with McGovern picking up a nasty injury of his own against QPR last Tuesday. It meant a league debut for Daniel Barden, who has only just turned 20. None of Norwich’s keepers are likely to leave this month but Daniel Farke has already stated that he would like to bring one in this month.
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City’s injury crisis in the first half of the season left no area of the pitch unharmed. Not one of the back line have managed to avoid the physio’s room completely, and poor Sam Byram is rarely out of it. We don’t really know just how good Xavi Quintilla might be, seeing as he played the first few games and has been out ever since. This has left Norwich without a specialist left back and Jacob Sorensen – a midfielder – has been filling in. He’s done well, to be fair, and he seems to be getting better, but you’d have to think the club might be on the look-out for a left back in this window.
Norwich don’t seem short on midfielders. In the summer, an announcement of a new signing was often met with comments along the lines of ‘another midfielder!?’
The middle of the park is vital to the way Farke wants his team to play though. It needs to strike the right balance between being tough enough to protect the defence and creative enough to drive the attack. Just think of all those lovely, intricate passes that open up opposition defences we love to see – it’s a high energy approach, it’s demanding, and you need plenty of players to be able to do it long term.
City’s biggest January challenge would appear to be trying to ensure that Emi Buendia is still part of the midfield when the window closes. His goal against Barnsley prompted me to text a friend to say that Buendia is too good for the Championship – surely the top-level beckons for him. Is it too much to ask that he remains with us for the rest of the season? I think being top of the table could help us in that regard. Fingers crossed.
Farke tends to start games with one striker, and Teemu Pukki’s record since he joined the club makes it difficult for anyone else to force their way in. There’s a lot to come from Jordan Hugill, in my opinion, so I think up front is one area Norwich don’t need to strengthen.
To sum up then: keep hold of Buendia, sign a back up goalkeeper and a left back and I think Norwich will be well set to seal promotion in the spring. Just don’t quote me on that.