Rupp settling in nicely with Canaries after low-key arrival
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
With intelligence, enthusiasm and clear technical ability, it’s fair to say that Lukas Rupp has made an impressive start to life as a Norwich City player.
Unusually for recent transfer windows, the midfielder's signing was sprung as something of a surprise when the Canaries unveiled the 29-year-old as their second January signing earlier this month.
There had been no whispers from the Hoffenheim end and with Rupp having only been on the fringes at the Bundesliga club, the former Germany Under-20 international arrived with little expectation or hype - signing a deal until 2022, after a switch was sealed for a reported fee of around £500,000.
However, Canaries fans know that in Daniel Farke, his coaching staff and several players, that sporting director Stuart Webber and the club's recruitment staff have extensive insight and connections in the German market to tap into.
With the unsuccessful loan of Patrick Roberts brought to an end and with Farke hoping for another attacking midfield option, it seemed that Hertha Berlin loanee Ondrej Duda would tick both of those boxes.
Yet the versatility of Rupp also arrived and, although it's still early days and City have many difficult challenges ahead of them, both have fitted seamlessly into the Canaries team.
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The presence of former Paderborn team-mate Mario Vrancic will no doubt have helped Rupp, with both being regulars in a team which couldn't retain Bundesliga status for the promoted club during 2014-15, finishing just four points from safety - although both did enough to earn moves which kept them in the top flight, Rupp with Stuttgart and Vrancic with Darmstadt.
He also has former youth international team-mate Marco Stiepermann for company and has faced both Josip Drmic and Timm Klose in Bundesliga action, so perhaps settling in smoothly shouldn't be a surprise.
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After a very late cameo as a substitute during the crucial 1-0 home win over Bournemouth had given Rupp his first experience of Premier League action at Carrow Road, he soon found himself in at the deep end.
A thigh injury to Emi Buendia opened an opportunity on the right side of midfield against than last season's Champions League runners-up Tottenham Hotspur.
After two months without a game, all of a sudden Rupp was being asked to step in for a player who had just been nominated for the Premier League Player of the Month for December and who, despite playing for the team bottom of the table, is mixing it at the very top of the division's creative statistics with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and James Maddison.
Yet after shaking off an awkward return to action during the early stages at Spurs, the former Borussia Monchengladbach man started to ease the concerns about City's attacking abilities without Buendia.
They are not quite the same player - few players roam quite as much as City's Argentine playmaker - but an assured touch, confidence on the ball and lively movement soon had Rupp playing his part in a positive performance, once he'd picked up the speed of the game.
He linked well with Max Aarons to help his right-back win the penalty from which Teemu Pukki had equalised, saw a loose shot deflected just wide as City searched for a second leveller late on, had played key roles in creating chances for Pukki and Todd Cantwell, and had fired a shot just wide before the break.
Not bad, for a full debut away to one of the big boys.
That night in north London put 86 minutes of match action in the tank but just three days later Farke had his new man in action again, this time playing the full 90 as FA Cup victory was secured at Burnley.
Again it was a largely positive day for Rupp, linking well with Drmic and Sam Byram on the right, showing good attacking energy to regularly find space and keep the Burnley defenders guessing.
He stung Joe Hart's gloves with a blast from the edge of the box and had twice teed up Drmic for chances in the first half, before again being denied by the Burnley keeper as he tried to flick in a lovely Vrancic cross from the left in the 56th minute.
Fortunately however, the former England keeper's parry fell perfectly for Drmic to tap City 2-0 ahead, with a generous dollop of help from his new team-mate.
He may be slight in stature but Rupp has shown he's up for the relegation scrap. If called upon at Newcastle he will have a huge amount of hard work on his plate once again but the early signs suggest the latest German arrival in Norfolk can be relied upon.