The Canaries today moved to the head of the race to sign Scunthorpe United striker Billy Sharp after Irons chairman Steve Wharton revealed that he was on his way to Norfolk for talks after the two clubs agreed a ?2 million fee.
Speaking to the Scunthorpe Evening Telegraph last night, Wharton revealed: “We have given Billy permission to go and talk to Norwich.”
The paper went on to claim that the player was due to have those talks in Norwich today.
Sharp, 21, has been the subject of fevered transfer interest this summer after topping the League One goal-charts last season.
Sheffield Wednesday – managed by Sharp's former Irons boss Brian Laws – were the first to show their hand with a reported ?1 million bid rejected.
Watford, too, were reported to be interested last January and were again rumoured to be circling this summer as Hornets' chief Aidy Boothroyd looked for something to do with the ?9 million he recouped from the sale of Ashley Young to Aston Villa.
Long-time favourites for his signature were, however, Wolves who came close to pulling off a double-swoop for both the one-time Sheffield United trainee and his Glanford Park strike pal Andy Keogh last January.
In the end, Molineux chief Mick McCarthy opted just to take Keogh and was hoping to use the pair's long-standing friendship as a lever to get Sharp out of Scunthorpe this summer.
Which probably explains why they never matched United's ?2 million asking price – figuring on player-power being enough to get Scunthorpe to accept a reported ?1.8 million offer over the weekend.
City's willingness to meet that ?2 million valuation – a bid that has been sat on the table for the better part of three weeks as Sharp jetted off to Dubai for his summer holidays – has now found the Irons upping the stakes again by granting Sharp permission to meet the Canaries and discuss personal terms.
After such a protracted and – inevitably – public courting of the League One hot-shot, Canary boss Peter Grant will be keeping every finger crossed that today's move is the first stage of the Sharp end-game.
And that having been given the full guided tour of Colney, the 21-year-old will become a City player before too long.
However, life is rarely as straight-forward and Wharton's overnight revelation that Norwich were now sat on pole could merely be aimed at prising one last bid out of everyone else sat at the table.
He could, for example, be attempting to flush Wolves out and trying to get them to match Norwich's ?2 million bid after hoping that the Keogh factor could save them ?200,000. Equally, after talking some talk, are Watford prepared to walk the walk and lodge a formal offer on the back of the news that Sharp is Norfolk-bound for talks?
It will certainly focus minds in the Midlands – do they go Sharp or do they plump for Southend United's Freddy Eastwood instead with many suggesting that a ?1.5 million deal was firmly on the cards.
More will undoubtedly follow….
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