Five left-backs Norwich City could target this January
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The January transfer window is conventionally a complex period to recruit talent, but Norwich City are hoping to dip their toe in the water and sign a left-back this month.
Xavi Quintilla's injury and the concern that his body may not be able to contend with the physical demands being placed upon it means the position has shot to the top of their shopping list this month.
Brexit regulations have thrown in another curveball to navigate, meaning some markets will be closed off to the Canaries as they pursue a frontline option capable of contesting Quintilla for the spot in the first-team.
City may even opt not to sign a defensive option at all should Sam Byram's condition improve. The former Leeds United man displaced Jamal Lewis in the Premier League and displayed his quality during a run of 13 fixtures prior to a hamstring injury that has ruled him out for almost a year.
Lewis' template has been adopted as we analyse five potential options from overseas that could fit the bill for Stuart Webber and his recruitment team this month. All of the options on the list match the profile of player head coach Daniel Farke likes in full-back areas and would qualify for a work permit under the current regulations.
Yan Vorogovskiy - Permanent
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Club: Beerschot AC
The Kazakhstan international has been a consistent member of Beerschot's first-team this season, the 24-year-old has broken through with real promise after moving to the Netherlands from his native country in 2019.
Vorogovskiy has been deployed as a winger and also as a right-back in recent weeks, but his success has come largely as a left-back. His aggressive and attacking style is similar to that which Daniel Farke likes his full-backs to possess.
His contract expires at the end of the season, meaning he may be available for a smaller fee, which is significant given the current Covid-19 crisis. There would be a question mark over whether he possesses the ability to rival Xavi Quintilla, but the Kazakh, stylistically, looks to be a good fit for City's desired philosophy.
Mihailo Ristic - Permanent
Ristic is a Serbian international entering the final year of his contract at Montpellier. The 24-year-old can also operate as a winger but has been deployed in a more defensive role so far this season.
Similarly to someone like Jamal Lewis, he is excellent ball carrier, someone who can hold onto possession and drive his side up the pitch. There is a willingness to support the attack and Ristic's threat has seen him register two assists so far this campaign.
There is value to be had in the French market with Montpellier and other Ligue 1 clubs staring into a financial abyss after a huge TV deal collapsed. Ristic's side currently sit 9th in the division but a Premier League promotion challenge could be enough to tempt the Serbian to move to Carrow Road.
Gabriel Gudmundsson - Permanent
Club: FC Groningen
The Swedish youngster moved to the Netherlands after graduating from the Halmstads academy in his home country. Gudmundsson arrived as a winger but has been nurtured into a powerful, attacking left-back option.
He is versatile, but also athletic and capable with the ball at his feet. Gudmundsson has entered the final year of his contract and will have suitors after continuing his development at Groningen.
The 21-year-old has played throughout the age groups for his country, from U15 level to U21. Under a youth-enabling head coach in Daniel Farke, he may be able to take his game to the next level at Norwich.
Toni Lato - Loan
Lato would be a viable loan solution for the Canaries given a recent move to Osasuna didn't yield the game time he would have been hoping for. The Spaniard has also had a temporary spell with PSV Eindhoven but made only one appearance for the Dutch side.
He has racked up eight appearances for Valencia in La Liga this season before he contracted coronavirus. Jose Gaya has been preferred in that position during recent weeks.
The potential of regular game time and the allure of a promotion push may be enough to convince Lato to swap sunny Valencia for Norfolk. That said, Lato is the only cover for Gaya, meaning former Watford boss Javi Gracia may be reluctant to dispense of his services for the remainder of the season.
Gianluca Frabotta - Loan
Frabotta is one of Juventus' stars of the future, the left-back was signed from Bologna in 2019 and has been exposed to some first-team action under Andrea Pirlo's stewardship this season.
The 21-year-old has been an understudy for Alex Sandro, but played 87 minutes of Juve's 3-1 victory over Milan due to the Brazilian contracting coronavirus.
That would make the short-term prospects of a loan seemingly unlikely, but given Pirlo will be wanting Frabotta to gain regular minutes in a first-team, the Canaries could be a viable option to help develop the Italian U21 international.