Norwich City transfer rumours: Villa keen on Cantwell

Todd Cantwell of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Pride Park Stadium, Derb

Norwich City star Todd Cantwell has been linked with Aston Villa - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

With promotion sealed, the inevitable transfer rumours about Norwich City stars are already in full flow, with Todd Cantwell the latest Canaries player linked with a big-money move.

The Daily Mail claim the 23-year-old City academy product is one of the options being considered by Aston Villa as a potential replacement for their influential captain Jack Grealish.

The England international's performances are said to have prompted Manchester City to explore the possibility of a move this summer, with a huge £100million quoted due to Villa's financial strength and a third successive season of Premier League football being secure. 

It's the first high-profile story about Cantwell's future to arrive since speculation reached an unhelpful peak last September while the transfer window was still open, with the creative midfielder and Emi Buendia left out of a 1-0 win at Bournemouth due to head coach Daniel Farke feeling they had been distracted.

At the time it was Leeds United said to be chasing Cantwell and although a bid didn't arrive, the Whites' director of football Victor Orta did subsequently admit that Cantwell was a player on their radar.

Previously there had been regular links to Liverpool and the Mail have taken a particularly keen interest in the 'Dereham Deco' with the list of clubs they have linked him to including Leicester, Newcastle, Manchester United, Tottenham and Bayern Munich.

Cantwell was soon back in the City side but a couple of niggling injuries disrupted his first half of the season. Since returning to full fitness in December however he has racked up six goals and five assists, and has spoken about the lessons learned from that awkward spell.

His form earned a recall to the England Under-21 squad for the ill-fated group stages of the European U21 Championship in March, being called up as an injury replacement but only being brought on in one game, winning his fourth cap. 

Cantwell made his 100th appearance for Norwich during the 3-1 win at QPR on Saturday and has just enjoyed a second Championship promotion success with the club he has been with since his under-11 age group.

VERDICT: Daniel Farke has spoken in recent days of City being under no need to sell and that only big bids and a significant step up in club standard are likely to persuade City to sell players such as Cantwell, Max Aarons or Buendia.

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With an imminent mid-table finish in the Premier League for Villa, it is debatable whether that would be the case but Cantwell being a potential replacement for the flair and creativity of Grealish does make sense.

The key issue with Cantwell is that he is out of contract in 2022 - although there is an option for a further 12 months - so a big bid this summer would have to be considered carefully. In this instance, it seems it would actually require Grealish to seal a big move elsewhere first as well.

Canaries fans are keeping an eye on whether promotion could bring a new deal for the academy product, to secure his long-term future, having spoken recently of how proud he has been to become established at his local club.

Having scored six goals in the Premier League last season, it would seem highly likely that Farke sees Cantwell as part of his plans for the top flight, unless the skilful midfielder decides it's time to move on.

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