How will Norwich City spend their summer?
Background photo: CR Gutman. CC BY 4.0.
Norwich City took the Championship by storm in 2018/19, comfortably securing promotion back to the Premier League with confidence and style.
The Canaries went on to lift the trophy as deserved champions, with a youthful squad augmented by a number of European imports proving almost unstoppable under the guidance of German manager Daniel Farke; a Brexiteer’s nightmare.
With a tiny budget and coming off the back of a disappointing 2017/18 campaign, the recruitment team, headed up by Stuart Webber, turned to the continent and brought in a number of unknown quantities for tiny fees, much like Huddersfield had done two years earlier before their successful promotion.
Onel Hernandez, Emi Buendia, Christoph Zimmermann and Marco Stiepermann are just a few of the imports that were at the heart of Farke’s team. None of them were well-known before moving to Norfolk, but all now boast burgeoning reputations and will be looking forward to testing their mettle in England’s top flight.
Teemu Pukki was arguably the biggest success story. He was City’s top scorer with 30 goals across all competitions, while also being named the Championship Player of the Season for his efforts. Not bad for a player who cost less than one of Delia Smith’s cakes in transfer fees; absolutely nothing.
With the club aiming for survival in their first season back in the Premier League in three years, more plucky unknowns likely won’t cut the (Colman’s) mustard this time around. Real quality is a must but, at the same time, if the system ain’t broken then why fix it?
That appears to be Webber’s policy, anyway. The Canaries seem to still be keen to recruit more foreign stars, but now have the reach to be able to bring in players of real quality. Bargain-bucket signings from lower leagues are no longer required.
Englishman Patrick Roberts was first through the door but Norwich went continental once again, swooping to secure Swiss international forward Josip Drmic after his contract expired with Borussia Munchengladbach. The 26-year-old has a long history of injury issues, but 10 goals in 32 caps for Switzerland and five years in the Bundesliga point at his quality, even if he is deputy to Pukki in 2019/20.
Going forward, a new goalkeeper looks to be next on the to-do list. Tim Krul is a fine stopper with plenty of experience in the Premier League, but looked shaky at times last season and Farke would surely jump at the chance to sign another high-quality custodian.
An opportunity to do exactly that may come in the form of Ralf Fahrmann. The Schalke man has been regarded as one of the German league’s top goalkeepers in recent years, but spent much of the last campaign on the bench as youngster Alex Nubel was preferred in Gelsenkirchen.
Sky Sports Germany report that Norwich have made their interest in the 30-year-old known, which seems plausible as he represents everything they need right now. An experienced, well-respected shot-stopper capable of providing competition to Krul and who likely wouldn’t cost too much. It will be interesting, however, to see where he fits in the plans of new Schalke boss David Wagner.
But the Carrow Road club’s marquee signing could come in the form of Benfica’s Filip Krovinovic. The attacking midfielder is definitely heading out on loan and a move to Vitoria de Guimaraes looked a formality, but interest from England has turned the player’s head.
According to Portuguese outlet A Bola there are a number of Premier League and Championship clubs keen on the 23-year-old, but Norwich are at the top of the pile.
A temporary switch to the East of England would suit the player as he would get an opportunity to prove his ability in a top European league, while City would get a quality talent without shelling out on a transfer fee. With Webber’s record as something of a bargain hunter, he would surely be tempted by this kind of deal.
While most clubs scramble for home-grown talent to fulfil quotas and regulations, don’t be surprised to see Norwich City buck the trend by continuing to shop internationally.