Becchio in, Morison out in a straight swap deal looks to be it for the night, unless there is still one last sting in the transfer tale…Thu 31 Jan 13 by Rick Waghorn
One in, one out – that looked to be the sum of City’s transfer activity in the final, frantic hours of this season’s winter transfer window.
Unless, of course, something wholly dramatic happened north of the border where Bhoys boss Neil Lennon has spent the better part of this month telling the world and his wife that they were wasting their breath trying to prise Gary Hooper out of Celtic Park.
Even if Norwich are now reported to have made two more fresh bids for the Celtic striker; the latest towards the £6 million mark. Apparently.
“We have only had one club interested and we have had two separate bids. It was nowhere near,” Lennon was busily insisting yesterday.
In the meantime, however, that well-worn path between Elland Road and Carrow Road was being beaten again as Luciano Becchio started a new career in Norfolk just as Steve Morison sought a new one in Yorkshire.
Tellingly, Becchio used his five-year spell with the Whites to good effect – speaking to both his former skipper Jonny Howson and winger Robert Snodgrass before following both south. Bradley Johnson will complete the Leeds quartet now relishing life in the top flight of English football.
“I cannot wait to play my first game for Norwich,” the 29-year-old told City’s official club website this afternoon, after the Argentinian put pen to paper on a three-and-a-half year deal.
“I spoke to Robert Snodgrass and Jonny Howson about Norwich and they both had really good things to say about the club and the city,” added the Whites favourite, who arrives at Carrow Road with form and a new fortune on his side.
The 6ft 1in striker has bagged nine goals from his last 12 Leeds outings, taking his tally for the season thus far to 19. No mean feat, that.
Finally, City skipper Grant Holt was someone to share the burden of scoring goals; Norwich will not be quite so wholly reliant on the 31-year-old’s hamstrings playing ball.
“I am really happy about having the chance to play in the Premier League,” added Becchio. “It is brilliant for me personally and for my career.”
Exiting north was Morison, whose career at Carrow Road has always been over-shadowed rather by that of Holt. If Paul Lambert’s intention was to make the Welsh international his first-choice frontman and relegate Holt to the substitutes’ bench, then he had reckoned without the character of City’s three-time player of the season.
He kept a tight grip on that first-choice mantle – leaving Morison with the walk-on parts. As and when fitness allowed.
“It didn’t take long to make my mind up,” Morison told the official Leeds website, as the swap deal went through overnight.
“I’m pretty happy,” added the striker. “There were lots of rumours going around, but I’ve been out injured and was concentrating on getting fit. This has all happened quickly in the end, but when Leeds come in for you and you see the place it’s a no-brainer.”
Whites boss Neil Warnock appeared delighted with the deal – left with little or no choice but to deal once Becchio lodged an official transfer request; much in the same way that Danny Graham forced Swansea’s hand with his £5 million switch to Sunderland.
“Even before Luciano put in his transfer request we had enquired about Steve – he was at the top of my list in January to bring in – and I can’t tell you how delighted I am,” Warnock said tonight.
“Steve meets all the requirements of the striker we’ve been looking to bring in. For me, he is a player who has everything. He can score goals from anywhere – whether it’s 25 yards or a tap-in – he has pace, and he has all the attributes you want.”