Norwich City transfer rumours: Canaries keen on Huddersfield midfielder
- Credit: PA
Championship promotion rivals Norwich City and Brentford are reportedly keen to beat Burnley to the signing of Huddersfield Town midfielder Lewis O'Brien.
That's according to The Sun on Sunday, who report the Canaries have the Terriers' reigning Player of the Year award winner on their 'wanted list' ahead of the summer transfer window.
Of course both City and the Bees do not yet know which division they will be playing in, so will need to be monitoring options for both the Premier League and the Championship, with Burnley on course to secure a sixth consecutive season in the top flight.
O'Brien, 22, a tenacious left-footed midfielder, is from Essex originally but emerged from the youth system at Huddersfield and was named Academy Player of the Year in 2018.
The central midfielder signed a three-year contract and went out on loan to Bradford City, scoring four goals and assisting three in 40 games in League One as the Bantams sunk to relegation back to the fourth tier.
His progress was enough to earn another three-year deal as he returned to Huddersfield, with the option for a further 12 months which could take his deal through until the end of the 2022-23 season.
O'Brien emerged as a regular during a difficult first season for the Terriers following Premier League relegation, with Danny Cowley replacing Jan Siewert as manager early in the campaign and leading the Yorkshire club to scrape clear of relegation.
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The youngster scored twice and assisted four times in 38 Championship appearances to be voted Player of the Year by fans, also winning the Championship Goal of the Month award in January 2020 for a thumping strike against Barnsley - which also won Town's Goal of the Season award.
He was mostly playing as an attacking midfielder last season and was also handed the captain's armband by Cowley on the final day of the campaign, but has been deployed as a central midfielder in a slightly deeper role as Carlos Corberan tries to instil a more attractive style of play during this season.
He missed the first four games of the campaign - and the 1-0 home defeat to Norwich on the opening day - due to a thigh injury but has become a regular starter, with two assists and a goal from 25 matches so far.
O'Brien's future was making headlines during the January transfer window after a report in The Sun had claimed Town were using an outside agency to try and cash in on a player they claimed was attracting interest from Burnley and Newcastle.
However, local newspaper the Huddersfield Examiner subsequently reported that those claims were false and that the Terriers were keen to keep hold of one of their best players. Sheffield United and Crystal Palace were also linked during January, by Football Insider.
Speaking at the end of last month about O'Brien's search for the consistent form of last season, Huddersfield boss Corberan told the Examiner: "I know that O’Brien was a very important player last year and I think he’s been a very important player for us this year too.
“Maybe the number of minutes that he played last year were not the same number of minutes that he’s playing right now.
“We need to continue thinking that he is a young player but it’s not going to be any kind of excuse for him because he’s going to be demanding of himself more than anyone and that’s something very important in his character.
“In any player’s career there are going to be some better moments and some worse moments and to be an important football player means you need to meet those kind of moments and put your level the highest it can be.
“At the same time when you start to play with any kind of reputation or with some type of responsibility, it comes with expectation.
“When a player is going through his career he needs to know how to control the different types of moments they are going to live and continue growing and improving as a player.”
VERDICT: There seems to be a lot of transfer noise around a player who had made good early progress in his career, and with Huddersfield again involved in the Championship relegation scrap he may well be looking for a fresh start this summer.
Worth taking note of the strong connections with Huddersfield at Norwich, with sporting director Stuart Webber and head of football operations Steve Weaver both joining from the Terriers in 2017.
Weaver in particular will be aware of O'Brien having been Town's academy manager, while City's scouting coordinator is Danny Hoyle, the son of former Huddersfield owner Dean Hoyle.
After winning his Player of the Year award, Huddersfield Examiner writer Steven Chicken described O'Brien's style as "gut-busting efforts, boundless energy, inch-perfect recovery tackles and ability on the ball".
So with the Canaries in the market for bargains with further potential to be developed, the midfielder would appear to tick plenty of the boxes required, particularly if promotion to the Premier League is not secured.