City report card: Farke's biggest wish became a dream come true for the Canaries
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Last summer, Oliver Skipp walked round the empty training pitches at Tottenham Hotspur pondering which club he would opt to join on loan to continue his development.
All in all, it took a significant period of time before the midfielder whittled down his options and selected Norwich City after a series of in-depth conversations with sporting director Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke.
Jose Mourinho was adamant that he wanted the youngster to remain at the club and fight for a first-team spot, but Skipp's decision to head out on loan was one he insisted upon. City have a positive working relationship with Spurs and Webber is close friends with director of football Steve Hitchen.
But when it came to Skipp's final decision, that was one made solely by him.
Farke described his desire to sign Skipp as his 'biggest wish' after the 20-year-old caught the eye of City's head coach during their FA Cup game last March and in a behind-closed-doors friendly prior to Project Restart.
City were persistent and aggressive in their pursuit of the midfielder, knowing he would provide energy and dynamism that many at the club felt they were lacking during their Premier League campaign.
Skipp has over-delivered in terms of the consistency of his performances. His true quality is being able to combine a combative core with technical ability, mixing a modern approach with an old-fashioned one. In possession, he has been effective, but as a screener he has contributed enormously to their defensive improvement this season.
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Throughout the course of this season, some inside the walls at Colney have believed his performance data is of a standard that would see him compete in Spurs' first-team set-up.
That was a view replicated by Mourinho, who considered recalling Skipp in January before electing to place his development ahead of his need for reinforcements in midfield.
Few have managed to displace Alex Tettey during his nine years of service at the club. That feat was achieved by Skipp and perhaps that is the biggest compliment to pay the youngster.
As people look at his qualities, the one major disappointment will surround the fact Skipp never experienced a full Carrow Road. There is still time to put that right next season... one thing is for sure, Farke, Webber, City fans and everyone connected to the club would like him to return.
Skipp's future hinges on a few elements.
Spurs are yet to appoint a permanent manager to replace Mourinho, with coaches from Mauricio Pochettino to Erik ven Haag linked with the post. Skipp's injury will see him miss a sizable portion of pre-season, meaning whoever occupies the dug-out will be forced to wait to assess his quality.
Harry Winks' future at the club may also play a part; some expect Spurs to dispense with the 25-year-old this summer, which would create a natural place for Skipp to fill in the first team. However, if the Spurs academy graduate stays at the club, that could leave him on the periphery again.
Another dimension is whether ex-City loanee Harry Kane leaves the club.
Any deal that saw the England striker depart would be for well in excess of £100million, meaning Tottenham would have a wedge of money to re-invest into a squad that is deemed to have underperformed this season.
The Canaries feel Skipp's injury status may work in their favour due to other options getting a chance to show the new boss their ability before the combative midfielder can. Despite their reluctance to do deals close to the deadline, City would bring the 20-year-old in at any opportunity should they be made aware he is available for loan.
Webber has made the club's position crystal clear to Skipp and his representatives, but the expectation is that City will be forced to wait. They have already started their work on signing two central midfielders, with Skipp seen by many as the cherry on top of the cake.
If he has worn yellow and green for the final time, then City supporters know they have contributed to the development of a player who, if he continues his current arch of progression, will soon be representing England and become a regular in midfield at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Whatever happens from here, a key part of Skipp's progress will be down to that exceptional year at Carrow Road.