‘They don’t have to sell’ - City hold all the cards despite transfer speculation, insists Ashton
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Dean Ashton believes Norwich City’s young stars owe the club their full commitment for the belief placed in them that’s led to them being some of the most sought-after commodities in English football.
Ben Godfrey’s name is the latest to be sucked into the transfer rumour mill with Everton interested in the defender but the past week has seen big clubs also linked with Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia and Max Aarons.
Ben Godfrey’s name went from the transfer rumour mill to reality last night with City accepting a club record bid from Everton for the defender, but the past week has seen big clubs also linked with Todd Cantwell, Emi Buendia and Max Aarons.
Whilst Ashton can understand the frustration of some of Norwich’s players, he believes they should be giving the Canaries their full focus.
“It is difficult especially when you’ve tasted Premier League football,” said Ashton, who joined City from Crewe in January 2005 for £3m before leaving for West Ham 12 months later.
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“I think any player that has ambition wants to be in the Premier League or a top European league so when you’ve tasted that you don’t really want to go back to the Championship.
“I can see how difficult it is for any young players when they hear rumours and perhaps they’ve got their agent talking to them about possible moves. That’s where you’d like to still see some professionalism – you’re at a club, there’s games going on, you should be prepared for them, you should be prepared to give anything for those games until anything does come about.”
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Ashton believes City are entering a crucial phase to the season with the period between now and the end of the transfer window on October 16 potentially defining for Farke and his side.
“It’s going to be massive in terms of who stay and who goes and how that could affect the rest of the season,” he added.
“Right now I feel like the squad is stronger than it was than when it got promoted. They’ve added in certain areas like Oliver Skipp in defensive midfield, (Ben) Gibson coming in as reinforcement at the back, (Xavi) Quintilla looks a good replacement for Jamal Lewis – I think they are looking really strong.
“It’s just that creative side. Players like Cantwell and Buendia – it’s crucial that they keep one of those players. Norwich are in a completely different position compared to years gone by like when I moved.
“They don’t have to sell – I know right now is difficult for any football club but they have done things right in recent years and I think they are under no pressure to sell anybody.
“You can see that in the strength of Daniel Farke being able to come out and dig out a couple of the players in saying ‘you’re contracted to Norwich, we don’t have to let you go’ - that’s a great position for Norwich to be in and one I think they have struggled with in the past.”
Ashton, who was forced to quit football in 2009 due to an ankle injury sustained on England duty, believes City’s youngsters must be very careful when plotting their next career move. Game time is the most important element to any young player’s career and some may be better served giving the Canaries another season in the Championship before assessing again.
“The money that’s in the Premier League, of course it’s going to draw your attention as a player,” he said. “But I look at players like Todd Cantwell and Max Aarons right now playing regularly in the Championship rather than going to a Premier League side and being second choice. You’ve got to play when you’re young and it would be great consolidation to have another season with Norwich, get promoted, be players of the season and really thrive to then have another crack at the Premier League.
“A footballer’s career is very short, I certainly know that, if the opportunity comes and feel you want to progress in your career then you’re going to look at those options. That’s why I mean Norwich are in a really strong position – they are in pole position regardless of what the players think.”