Norwich City transfer rumours: Midfielder wants clarity from French champions

Lille's Cheikh Niasse (left) and Celtic's Mohamed Elyounoussi in action during the UEFA Europa Leagu

Lille's Cheikh Niasse in Europa League action against Celtic last season, prior to his Panathinaikos loan - Credit: PA

Senegalese midfielder Cheikh Niasse wants clarity from Lille about his future amid interest from clubs including Norwich City, according to one of his representatives.

La Voix Du Nord, a regional newspaper in northern France, have published an interview with lawyer Maitre Moustapha Kamara alongside claims that Norwich, Angers, Servette and Club Brugge are among the top-flight clubs interested.

That follows the 21-year-old defensive midfielder spending the second half of last season on loan at Panathinaikos, starting 13 of his 15 games as fifth place was secured in the Greek Super League, missing out on European qualification.

After becoming a regular for the B team, Niasse made his Lille debut as a 19-year-old as he began to be included among the substitutes regularly for Ligue Un games during 2019-20.

Just one further senior appearance actually followed prior to his loan in Greece though, starting a 3-2 defeat away to Celtic last October when the French side had already secured qualification for the knockout stages, playing 79 minutes at right-back.

Lille won their first title since 2011 while the youngster was out on loan but have since parted ways with head coach Christophe Galtier, who had decided to move on after more than three years with the club following the mid-season arrival of new owners.

The Luxembourg-based investment fund appointed former Paris Saint-Germain sporting director and Rennes president Olivier Letang as chief executive and Niasse's representative has appealed to Leitang for clarity amid the wait for the appointment of a new coach.

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“I asked Mr Letang how he could refuse these offers when we don't know the coach," Kamara tells the newspaper, whose client still has two years remaining on his Lille contract.

"Last summer, at the same time of the season, Luis Campos (former director of football) told us that the club were counting on him.

"His priority is to stay in Lille, to make his mark there, but to achieve this he has to play and for the moment we are in the dark.

"I can't refuse to listen to other clubs, because we still have great opportunities."

The report also suggests that a new contract offer could be on the way from Lille but that Niasse will want assurances of being involved in the first team.

VERDICT: Such business being carried out in public will always prompt scepticism, with representatives keen to raise the profile of their clients, particularly when chances of a youngster forcing their way into the squad of the French champions would appear slim.

Our understanding is that the Canaries are not actively pursuing the Lille youngster.

Norwich were shown to be actively monitoring the Greek league when they signed left-back Dimitris Giannoulis in January.

France is also thought to be a market that City are scouring extensively, with young defensive midfielder Melvin Sitti signed from second-tier Sochaux during January 2020 but seeing a loan in Belgium subsequently prove unsuccessful.

The Canaries are clearly in search of at least one central midfielder following promotion to the Premier League though, after the decisions to release the experienced Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic.

City are understood to be trying to secure the loan of rising Scotland star Billy Gilmour from Chelsea and will do all they can to bring Oliver Skipp back from Tottenham if possible, after a hugely successful loan.

Currently the only recognised senior central midfielders on the books are Kenny McLean, Lukas Rupp and Jacob Sorensen, with McLean and Rupp finishing last season injured and Sorensen having spent most of the season at left-back.

- You can hear all the latest City transfer news and views in our Window Watch video, on this website at 1pm today

MORE: City cool interest in Ajer

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