10 potential lower league diamonds for Norwich City in this transfer window
Recruitment of new players is an art-form, and Norwich City are going to have to pull off some awesome strokes this month if they are to strengthen their squad with minimal financial damage.
Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke have something of a blank canvas compared to City managers of the recent past – it’s fair to say there will be no Steven Naismith-style signing this time around. However, if the sale of Alex Pritchard brings in £11m, then there is likely to be some wiggle room – but don’t expect budget busting deals.
It’s a sign of the times that City have been linked with some potential diamonds from the lower leagues. Paul Lambert, rather famously, got that particular trick off to a tee – he was able to identify talented players who passed his due diligence examinations.
So what about Norwich City 2018? Where will Webber be looking to provide his head coach with ammunition for the rest of the season, and beyond? This is not at all scientific, just the result of a scour through the lower leagues (plus one from Scotland) who might fit the bill.
Jack Marriott (Peterborough)
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He’s the name on everyone’s lips, which is a good reason to put him top of the list, while at the same time meaning City could be priced out of the market. The Peterborough United striker could become the latest in the production line which has seen Posh rake in millions from the sales of players such as Dwight Gayle (Newcastle - £6m), Britt Assombalonga (Forest - £5.5m) and one-time Canaries target Craig Mackail-Smith (Brighton - £3.25m). Marriott has scored 23 league and cup goals this season, including a brace in Posh’s shock FA Cup win at Villa last weekend – that has attracted a lot of admirers, and a £3m price tag. Is it do-able?
Will Grigg (Wigan)
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It took a while for all the fuss to die down after Northern Ireland’s Euro 2016 campaign, with his fans chanting “Will Grigg’s on fire”, but the Wigan striker is firing on all cylinders. Grigg is 26 years old and a natural born striker – his tally of 11 this season includes eight in his last 10 games. That’s the plus side. The downside is that his contract expires in 2020 and Wigan are top of League One.
Josh Windass (Rangers)
This one has a couple of join-the-dot connections. Let’s get the obvious one out of the way: dad Dean almost signed for Norwich in 1995 but, having been denied the funds, Martin O’Neill quit as City boss. Right, that’s that out of the way. More pertinent is the recent rumours suggesting Russell Martin could be loaned to Rangers. Is there a contra deal to be done? It happens quite a lot and if Rangers do want Martin, then the question can be asked. Windass has scored half a dozen goals from midfield this season, five of them in one eight-game spell. He’s playing well under former Norwich academy coach Graeme Murty, but the opportunity to have a crack at the Championship might be tempting. Preston reportedly had a £700,000 bid rejected. Can City stretch to a bit more than that; would Windass want to come; would Rangers let him go?
Jon Nolan (Shrewsbury)
The midfielder is a talent, no doubt about that. Which means Norwich are not the only team to have an interest. However, they may have an advantage given the links that have been built up with Shrewsbury through Loans Manager Neil Adams. City have Ben Godfrey and Carlton Morris on loan in Shropshire and, until earlier this week, also had Ebou Adams. Shrewsbury have said they’re not interested in selling, but City have a bit of bargaining power that others don’t... in case the Shrews have a weak spot to be exploited. Nolan gets a few goals from midfield, can hit it with either foot, and works hard. Ideal.
Charlie Wyke (Bradford)
Bantams chairman Edin Rahic is using all the tricks in the book to deter interested parties: why would he leave? The jump to the Championship is too much of a risk; he loves it here. Usual stuff. Truth is, it matters little if the money is there. Do City want a big striker, a target man? Maybe. Wyke is a strong lad who’s helped himself to a dozen goals this season.
Sam Morsy (Wigan)
Tough tackling midfielder, and at 26 a good age. Mustn’t be forgotten that Wigan are aiming to be self-sufficient – even after pocketing £7m from City for Yanic Wildschut a year ago, they lost a few million last year. Morsy is an Egyptian international and could be playing in the World Cup this summer. Would playing at a higher level help his cause?
Jorge Grant (Nottm Forest)
On loan at Notts County, City have been linked with the left-sided midfielder already. Only 5ft 9in, with bags of pace and a good reader of the game.