Transfer rumour: City keen on Manchester United midfielder

Kenny McLean of Norwich is fouled by James Garner of Nottingham Forest during the Sky Bet Championsh

Manchester United loanee James Garner tackles Kenny McLean during Nottingham Forest's 2-0 home defeat to Norwich City last month - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

James Garner's agent claims Norwich City have been monitoring the midfielder, as he discussed the Manchester United prospect's potential next move after a successful loan at Nottingham Forest.

The 20-year-old has made 30 Championship appearances this season, spending the first half of the campaign at Watford but switching to Forest in January after losing his regular starting role.

Garner has started all but one match for Chris Hughton since joining and scored the only goal at Cardiff on Friday, earning a win which has almost guaranteed Forest will remain clear of relegation trouble.

The youngster's agent, Steven Beck, has spoken to United fans' website Stretty News and revealed that Blackburn and Scottish giants Rangers were also interested in his client when it became clear a Watford exit could happen.

As well as stressing Garner's hope to one day get a chance to impress with his parent club, where the Birkenhead-born England Under-20 international has been since he was eight years old, Beck discussed the potential of another loan next season.

“Third loan? I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I had a couple of chats with (United's new director of football) John Murtough last week, but I’m so relaxed on the situation, as is James because things are going so well for him.

"James has put himself in a great position where he’s probably going to have, if he does go out on loan again, the majority of the Championship and I would be amazed if one or two Premier League clubs don’t try and do something.

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“I know Brighton like him, I know Norwich like him. I know Rangers are really keen on him as well.”

Garner is under contract until 2022, although United have the option for a further year, and has made seven appearances for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side since making a brief top-flight debut in February 2019.

Three of those were starts in the Europa League group stages during 2019-20, including wins over Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar, and he also came on in the 82nd minute of a 3-1 win at Carrow Road in the Premier League.

He scored nine goals in 12 games at under-23 level to be named U23 Player of the Year and earn his initial loan move to Watford, where 12 of his 21 appearances were starts.

Forest's former Canaries manager Hughton has been keen not to create too much hype around Garner but did praise the defensive midfielder following an impressive 1-1 draw at Brentford prior to the recent international break.

 “He was really good again and he has a maturity for his age. It is a hard feat at that age," Hughton told his club's website.

“At this moment it is great development for him and you can only play like you are and be in the team if you are good enough and at this moment we are delighted to have him.”

VERDICT: An interesting link given that Norwich fans are well aware that there's no guarantee of City being able to bring Oliver Skipp back from Tottenham for a second spell if promotion can be secured.

It's slightly unusual for an agent to go public with clubs that are interested in his player but the tone of the interview clearly suggests they have their eyes set on a Premier League opportunity next season.

Having only just turned 20 last month, Garner is still young but has achieved a lot already and if he is to have any chance of making it at United, is likely to need a successful top-flight loan spell to prove himself.

As well as uncertainty about whether Spurs will allow Skipp out on loan again following his successful progress with City and the England U21s, veteran defensive midfielder Alex Tettey is also out of contract this summer and turned 35 today.

That leaves Jacob Sorensen as the only recognised defensive midfielder currently definitely on the books next season.

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