What the Norwich City squad might look like next season
- Credit: Jason Dawson
It may not be over until the fat lady sings, but it’s time to look ahead ... Chris Lakey ponders the ins and outs of next season
The word ‘if’ has long been replaced by the word ‘when’ as Norwich City and their fans come to terms with the inevitable.
If the past few games has been anything to go by, at 3pm on Saturday afternoon, Norwich City will be just a few dotted Is and crossed Ts away from being a Championship club. Only the paperwork stands in the way.
Instead of Anfield and Old Trafford, it will be Rotherham and their grandly-named New York Stadium. Or Coventry and someone else’s stadium. Or whoever wins in front of a soulless Wembley Stadium on Monday in the League One play-off game between Oxford and Wycombe.
Should City avoid losing to West Ham, the agony will simply be prolonged.
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But let’s face it, the sooner it is done and dusted the better. Let the cross-border jokers wear themselves out – they’re still a division below...
So, what next? Most certainly the biggest questions will be around the playing staff and who stays and who goes.
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City have all but Sean Raggett under contract and given he has hardly featured in a yellow shirt it is unlikely he will be around next season. Ondrej Duda’s loan will end soon and he will go back to Hertha Berlin, having failed to dig up any trees in Norfolk.
So the rest of the players have to be divided into different categories, depending on a number of factors: age, saleable value, value to the squad, desire to stay or leave, willingness to play in the Championship, and at reduced salary.
All sorts of things, but you get the gist, which is why what follows is something of a guessing game.
Who could be sold for good money?
You’d say Ben Godfrey, Todd Cantwell, Max Aarons, Emi Buendia and Jamal Lewis. Some of them have lost form since Project Restart began – maybe the speculated transfer fees are a little different now, plus there is the financial effects of Covid-19 on football club finances. But there is one similarity: they are good, young players with the potential to get better. What the buying club will say is potential isn’t guaranteed.
City don’t have to sell, they have made that clear. But which of those players might just say, ‘you know what, I don’t want to play for Norwich, I want to play in the Premier League’?
The coronavirus shortfall and the policy of self sufficiency presumably dictates someone will go. As Tom and Barbara will tell you, you don’t grow sprouts to let them rot in the ground.
It’s not just the young bucks who are keen to get on and make the most of their talents. There will be question marks over goalkeeper Tim Krul and striker Teemu Pukki. Krul’s heroics won’t have gone unnoticed and while Pukki is experiencing something of a 2020 goal drought and definite loss of form, there will be admirers. Krul is 32, Pukki 30 – this might be their last chance of playing in the top flight. You doubt City will want to lose them and the prospect of sitting on the bench if they move isn’t palatable. But would City stand on their way if there was an approach? A lot depends on replacements, and the rumour mill hasn’t turned to either a new goalkeeper or a new striker yet.
Who’s in/coming in?
Sam McCallum is here, having signed from Coventry in January before being loaned back. And ditto midfielder Melvin Sitti, from Sochaux. Midfielder Danel Sinani is coming in from Luxembourg. It looks likely that they will be joined by young American striker Sebastian Soto, currently with Bundesliga 2 side Hannover, Bali Mumba, a central midfielder coming from Sunderland at a cost of around £350,000, and Esbjerg midfielder Jacob Sorensen.
Soto may need to be loaned out before he can get a work permit – no fault of his or City’s. No replacement strikers there... maybe Pukki is staying or maybe City have managed to keep this one quiet, chatty Romanian club owners notwithstanding.
As mentioned, Duda back to Hertha and possibly Raggett. But what about Moritz Leitner? Rarely featured – has had 10, 19 and, so far, seven starts in the last three seasons. Not enough. And striker Carlton Morris – has he had too many loans and too many injuries to be considered for next season? Yes.
Left back Philip Heise will return from loan with Nurnberg in Germany, but it is difficult to make a case for him staying. Ditto Louis Thompson, so unlucky with injuries – he’s been at MK Dons, but will City consider him too risky?
Michael McGovern – able back-up but might it be time to blood a youngster like Aston Oxborough? Timm Klose – 32 years old. Perhaps depends on what happens with Godfrey, Josip Drmic – a striker, and there aren’t many. Lukas Rupp – midfielder, and there are plenty, Tom Trybull – ditto. Got to be thinking about next season – and beyond.
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