Chris Hughton’s long and frustrating search for fresh strike power could – if, but and maybe – be about to finally yield some fruit as reports emerged tonight that Swans striker Danny Graham has formally asked to leave the club for ‘personal reasons’.
The Swansea hit-man – left in the relative shadows this season by the imperious form of Spanish striker Michu – has long figured on Hughton’s New Year shopping list and has already been linked to a £5 million plus switch to Norfolk.
But with the transfer window now just three days away from closing, so it appeared that the club’s long and patient pursuit of the 27-year-old might end in a no-go.
And it still well might with Martin O’Neill’s Sunderland likewise reported to be in the hunt for Graham’s signature. The two clubs meet in the Premier League tomorrow night – another reason why Graham and his representatives might choose now to throw a spanner into the works with his ‘want-away’ move as Norwich prepare to play host to a striker-less Spurs on Wednesday night.
Invariably clubs of Swansea’s size – and, indeed, that of a Norwich – cannot afford to cast an unhappy player into the deep freeze of training with the youth team.
Particularly once they know that someone is willing to spend a seven-figure sum addressing Graham’s ‘personal reasons’ for wishing to leave South Wales.
Swans boss Michael Laudrup admitted as much at the weekend.
“If he comes and says he wants to leave and there’s a very good offer we’ll have to look into it,” said the Dane, with events now taking exactly that turn.
But if the money wasn’t right, Laudrup added, Graham would have to stay. “It could easily happen that we have exactly the same squad in February as we have now,” he warned.
Hughton has already admitted an interest in Graham; he, along with Celtic’s Gary Hooper, emerged as the early front runners for a switch to Norfolk.
Speaking earlier this month – well before this weekend’s humiliating FA Cup exit to non-league Luton Town – Hughton went public about his interest in the two players.
“Most (people) are aware we have put in a couple of offers for players,” said the City boss, his winter plans horribly hamstrung by the loss of either form or fitness of skipper Grant Holt and Welsh international Steve Morison.
On-loan Spurs youngster Harry Kane has yet to look the promised part and lasted only 45 minutes before Holt was thrown back into the fray. Whilst Simeon Jackson does offer one, fit alternative Norwich desperately need someone of Holt’s physical presence to help shoulder the 31-year-old’s load.
With seven goals from his 22 appearances this season, Graham could fit the bill.
“As a squad numbers-wise we are OK,” added Hughton at the time. “But if there is the opportunity to add quality to add to what we have got then we will look to do that and I’ve worked hard to do so.
“We have made bids for two players. The other clubs will have the say on whether that goes any further than that.”
Since then, however, Celtic have mounted a vigorous defence of Hooper; including a none-too polite rebuke for the Canaries from boss Neil Lennon.
But Graham’s reported move tonight will change the landscape dramatically.
Not that he’s the only show in town. The City chief has also confirmed an ‘interest’ in Dutch striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel, currently with Sporting Lisbon.
“I have see those reports on him (van Wolfswinkel) and there is an interest from ourselves but how far that interest has gone from us I don’t know,” he admitted over the weekend. “But certainly there is an interest.”