Costly 2016 signings may have failed for City but risk is part of the transfer reward
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The far-reaching effects of the January transfer window of 2016 have proved difficult for Norwich City to shake off – perhaps it wasn’t quite the disaster it may seem, though.
This week brought confirmation that the costly Canaries careers of Steven Naismith and Matt Jarvis are coming to an end, with their top-level wages finally shifted.
Both were signed as part of a push to solidify City's survival hopes midway through 2015-16, with Alex Neil's team in decent shape, sitting 15th in the Premier League and six points clear of the bottom three following successive home wins over Aston Villa and Southampton.
Neil and chief executive David McNally set about strengthening the squad and Norwich were among the biggest spenders that January, committing to deals reportedly worth around £25million in total plus the big wages which came with them.
Ivo Pinto arrived from Dinamo Zagreb for around £2m, Naismith in a deal worth up to £8.5m and Jarvis' loan from West Ham was made permanent for around £2.5m despite a knee injury curtailing his initially bright start.
On reflection those are three deals which largely didn't work out, Jarvis of course because of his persistent injury woes, although Pinto did manage a degree of Championship consistency and popularity with fans, even wearing the captain's armband for much of 2017-18 under Daniel Farke.
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It's the big money involved in Naismith's switch which saw the mood around the Scotland international go particularly sour though, leaving with eight goals from 48 games to his name.
There was plenty of excitement around the Scotland striker's signing at the time though, with Neil hailing the "proven performer at Premier League level" and his "excellent pedigree".
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And it was looking like money well spent when Naismith sent City into half-time with a 2-1 lead over Liverpool at Carrow Road, firing a fine debut goal just before the break.
Unfortunately that would be the high point of the Scot's time at Norwich. Capitulating to a 5-4 defeat in chaotic fashion was part of a 10-game run without a win which sent Neil's side hurtling back towards the Championship, with Naismith failing to find the net again before relegation.
What appeared a good signing, even with a hefty price tag, just did not work out and the new Canaries regime had to bite the bullet and continue to pay a good chunk of his wages while out on loan at Hearts for the last 18 months.
Timm Klose was another arrival that January, from Wolfsburg, for around £7.5m. Another excellent signing on paper, who came into the team after that Liverpool drama - and was soon looking the part.
After narrow defeats to Chelsea and Swansea in March a hard-fought 0-0 home draw with Manchester City and a 1-0 win at West Brom were added to by a 3-2 win over Newcastle, in which Klose scored his first goal.
However, four points clear with six games remaining and disaster struck, the Switzerland international going off just before half-time and City conceding midway through the second half to lose 1-0 at survival rivals Crystal Palace.
Many still point to that injury as being a key moment in that 2016 relegation and Klose has continued as a hugely popular player, shaking off a difficult start to Championship life to play a key role in promotion this season, proving money well spent and comfortably worth his new contract.
If you add the sales of Lewis Grabban, around £8m to Bournemouth, and Gary Hooper, £3m to Sheffield Wednesday, then the overall outlay that month was actually closer to £14m - and there was a good eye on the future too.
James Maddison and Ben Godfrey also arrived that January, showing that Neil and McNally weren't far from success, even if their best-laid plans did prove expensive to overcome.
Maddison of course went on to be a star and Player of the Season winner to earn a move to Leicester reportedly worth an initial £21m and Godfrey has been a star of the current title-winning success, with similar figures expected should the tabloid links with giants such as Manchester United and Liverpool prove to have foundation.
It proves the fine margins that football is decided by, the risk and reward of the transfer market. Even now, for successes like Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia on Stuart Webber's watch, there are failures like Marley Watkins or James Husband.
There are lessons that can be learned from that 2016 transfer window but if you don't buy a ticket, you can't win the lottery.