David Freezer: Oliveira’s exit leaves Norwich City’s squad in good shape to focus on the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Stuart Webber has told supporters he likes to get his business done early in the transfer window and with Nelson Oliveira’s overdue exit finally sealed this weekend, Norwich City’s sporting director is living up to his word again.
It's been clear that Oliveira wasn't part of Daniel Farke's plans for a year, with the head coach and Webber both admitting publicly that they expected the Portugal international to leave.
However, off-loading the striker proved to be more difficult than expected. Eventually it seems the Canaries have allowed a previously highly-rated asset to leave for no fee, just to shift his sizeable wages.
The 27-year-old had entered the final year of his contract and reports in Greece had suggested AEK Athens were offering a wage packet of around 1.2million euros, or in the region of £20,000 per week. So even if a fee is not involved, that's a significant saving of over £1m for Norwich in a permanent deal.
By most accounts Oliveira is a well-liked character among the players and staff at Colney, and let's not forget that his first season as a City player proved a success, giving high hopes for what could follow.
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The former Swansea and Forest loanee was signed from Portuguese giants Benfica by Alex Neil in a deal reportedly worth around £5m in August 2016.
An ankle injury meant Oliveira had to be eased into action after missing pre-season though and a handful of appearances as a late substitute kept him on the fringes, as Neil's team mixed it with Newcastle at the top of the table.
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It was while featuring as an over-age player in the Checkatrade Trophy for the U21s that a player who featured regularly for Portugal at Euro 2012 found himself looking to push his claims, with three goals and three assists during emphatic wins over Barnet and MK Dons doing just that.
He finally had lift-off and seven goals in seven Championship matches saw an expensive signing finally explode into life. Then his passionate nature got the better of him and he swung a frustrated fist at a Rotherham player.
After a two-game suspension it wasn't long before a six-game injury absence followed and he returned with Neil sacked, play-off hopes over and Alan Irvine in charge, to finish with 12 goals from 30 games.
City fans hoped that with a full pre-season under new boss Farke, a top striker could emerge. Unfortunately, plenty of top strikers also come with big egos.
Sometimes that works in their favour, that slightly arrogant and self-centred streak helps some forwards to find the focus they need to do the most difficult thing in football: score goals.
Norwich fans saw it with Craig Bellamy, Manchester United with Eric Cantona, Arsenal with Thierry Henry and numerous mega clubs with the god complex which is Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Oliveira was top scorer during Farke's first pre-season in charge, with five goals. Yet the new boss had the temerity to start the experienced Cameron Jerome ahead of him at Fulham on the opening day of 2017-18.
When he came off the bench and sweetly finished a Wes Hoolahan pass to earn a valuable point at Craven Cottage, Oliveira decided to whip off his shirt and wave the name on the back of it in Farke's face in celebration. How different things could have been had he just given his head coach a hug or a high-five instead...
The cracks in that relationship opened that day and after eight goals from 40 matches, it had become more and more obvious that Oliveira wasn't the style needed by the new regime, both in personality and playing style.
After a loan spell with Reading last season, the fresh start that both parties needed has arrived, with a degree of regret from City supporters that they never truly saw the best of an undoubtedly talented player.
The Canaries have already moved on though, the Championship title wrapped up and a bright new future being sculpted by Farke and Webber during Oliveira's absence.
Josip Drmic has arrived as chief competition to star striker Teemu Pukki - the hard working and team-focused clinical finisher who proved the antithesis of Oliveira during last season's superb success.
Dennis Srbeny and youngster Adam Idah look set to provide support and while that could still change before the Thursday, August 8 deadline, City's squad is looking well stocked and bolstered by the array of new contracts which have kept spirits high.
Sam Byram's arrival from West Ham last week was arguably the last piece of the puzzle, to compete with Max Aarons at right-back, but otherwise Webber will be able to peruse upgrades rather than necessities.
Three senior keepers are sorted and there is cover and competition for almost every position. Moving on the unwanted James Husband and Ben Marshall, as well as more loan deals for U23 prospects, is all that remains.
Settled, happy, financially stable and with the Championship trophy taking pride of place at Carrow Road for a season - with less than three weeks until kick-off at Anfield it all means Farke and his players can concentrate on causing some Premier League upsets.