David Freezer: No reason for City fans to fear this transfer window
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
The summer transfer window proved a stressful experience for Norwich City supporters but any clubs looking to tempt the Canaries into doing business in January will need a serious amount of cash.
Despite all the speculation, rumours and distractions during the summer, City's sporting director Stuart Webber was still able to stand strong in the face of interest in Max Aarons from no less than Spanish giants Barcelona.
That was despite Daniel Farke's revamped squad being at the beginning of their attempts to shake off the Premier League hangover - and let's not forget that as the European transfer window closed on Monday, October 6, they only had just four points from four games.
It's perhaps no coincidence when you look back on the fixtures that it was when the domestic transfer window closed on Friday, October 16 that the campaign really kicked into gear.
The current run of just one defeat in 16 games started the following day when Tim Krul's crucial penalty save and Jordan Hugill's injury-time winner from the spot ground out a very hard-fought 2-1 win at Rotherham.
Krul provides a timely reminder of the change in mood since the last transfer window closed, with the Christmas Day announcement of a new contract until 2024.
With City sitting five points clear at the top of the Championship table after 20 games, seven clear of third and 10 clear of seventh, the Holland international must be confident about the second half of the season.
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We can extend that train of thought into the situation of other star players who could be in demand next month as well. Any club that might try to tempt Max Aarons, Emi Buendia or Todd Cantwell will need a seriously strong offer.
The Canaries are financially stable and don't need to sell, particularly after setting themselves up for a chance of chasing an immediate promotion back to the top flight.
Beyond that though, those players know how sweet that feeling of promotion is from 2019 - and arguably if they manage it again it would feel even more satisfying for emerging from a negative place. Would they swap that for a Premier League relegation battle?
I think we can safely rule out Sheffield United but West Brom, Fulham, Brighton and Burnley are all firmly in the mix as well. For all the wailing at Arsenal at the moment it seems impossible that the Gunners won't push clear of trouble but Leeds, Palace and Newcastle still have plenty of hard work on their hands.
Which essentially leaves the top half, which means very little has changed. If one of the big boys really wants one of City's stars and are willing to pay a big fee, it's difficult to avoid. In a totally fictional scenario, if Liverpool offer over £30million for Emi Buendia, it would be so difficult to deny the Argentine that move.
The same was true in the summer. If Barca hadn't been complicating matters with an offer of a season-long loan with only an option of making the deal permanent, while also talking to Ajax about the right-back they eventually signed for around £23m, Sergino Dest, then Aarons would probably have made a dream move instead of continuing to develop and being impressively consistent in the Championship.
Add into the mix that with all that's going on in the UK next month, with the exit from the European Union and the continued gruelling battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, would you want to change your living arrangements at the moment if you were a player? It would surely only be for an extremely good offer.
All of which strengthen Webber's hand if he does get forced to the transfer table. Those relegation wounds are healing nicely, there's no fresh flesh for the Premier League vultures to pick at. We already know the Welshman prides himself on strong negotiation skills and this January he'll be able to stay strong and protect Farke's assets, short of anything other than an exceptional offer.
City's head coach deserves real praise as well though. Chastising Cantwell and Buendia for being distracted by transfer issues after the defeat at Bournemouth in late September seemed a risky tactic but it paid off.
Which means his team travel to promotion rivals Watford today with a points buffer, knowing that they can afford a defeat and still be top. Yet if Cantwell and Buendia continue to play like they did against Cardiff, they will fear no one.