Video: Grant Holt so happy to remain at Norwich City
Striker Grant Holt was a happy man yesterday after finally getting the extra year he wanted with Norwich City, declaring: “My goal has been reached.”
Nearly seven weeks after dropping a bombshell by handing the Canaries a transfer request, Holt has signed a new three-year contract with the club.
The three-times player of the season’s existing contract still had two years to run, but after talks with new manager Chris Hughton, the 31-year-old was granted his wish with a deal that runs until 2015.
Holt, skipper and top scorer for the past three years with 70 goals in 130 first team games, admitted there was a point when he was resigned to moving on.
He had been linked with West Ham, reported to have offered up to �6m for his services, and with former boss Paul Lambert’s Aston Villa, but he believes he is now destined to see out his career at Carrow Road.
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The news came on a notable day for Hughton, who also introduced two new signings to the media, snapping up 22-year-old Barnsley midfielder Jacob Butterfield on a four-year deal to add to the weekend capture of Scotland defender Steven Whittaker, one of 10 players to leave Rangers as a free agent after refusing to sign for the re-formed club.
Hughton was keen the new arrivals should not be overlooked but described securing Holt’s future as “the first priority and the outstanding priority”.
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Holt, who scored 15 Premier League goals last season, admitted: “It’s been a long saga now. I never wanted to leave the club, but things happen and there has been a lot of speculation.
“My ambition was to get the three years, I’ve done that now, I’ve agreed the deal and I’m happy. My intention was never to leave.
“As men you sit down, you sort it and we’ve done that. My intention was to see my career out here and I hope that will be the case.
“It was well documented from the start that I wanted three years. It’s taken a little bit longer than both sides wanted to achieve it, but we got there in the end.
“I look forward to working under the new manager and keeping this club where it is meant to be.”
Hughton was clearly delighted to resolve the Holt contract issue after stressing from day one that he wanted to keep the club’s top scorer on board.
“I have to thank our board and, of course, Grant in particular,” he said. “The first conversation I had with him, I didn’t really have to do too much because the feeling I had initially was that he wanted to be here. I don’t feel I had to work that hard and certainly didn’t have to persuade him.
“It was the first priority and the outstanding priority. Because of Grant’s record at this football club and because of his quality, it was of course going to be big news as a player who has scored the goals he has and has won three player of the year awards.
“I knew what he meant to this football club. It was one that rumbled on for a while. But having spoken to Grant, his intentions and his preference were to be here. Certainly the club have gone about their business in the right way.”
Hughton added: “I’d like to think it’s business well done today. The obvious one to speak about is Grant because that’s one that has been ongoing through the summer before my time here at the club and I think that probably has been the question on most supporters’ minds. Is he going to be staying? So that is a big one for us today but I certainly don’t want that to take anything away from the two new signings that we’ve unveiled.”
Asked if there was a time when he felt he would have to leave, Holt said: “Yes, I think so. I think there was a point. But you always think to yourself you don’t know. The thing is I’ve been here long enough now, you just never know in football.”
Club chairman Alan Bowkett at one stage described the position of Holt and agent Lee Payne as “rather intractable”, but Holt did not want to dwell on past disputes or talk of the club backing down.
“Well, it wouldn’t be good of me to speak about whatever has gone on or drag the club through whatever was said. We’re looking to the future,” he said.
“My goal has been reached because I got my three years, which I’m delighted about. There are things I can’t really say too much about. There were things that were said in the last six weeks that maybe shouldn’t have been, and we’ve resolved them.
“At the end of the day, what we’re all here for is to keep this club where it is. I can do that on the pitch and they’ve got to do that with the finances.”