City boss Peter Grant finally got his man this afternoon as 22-year-old Celtic keeper David Marshall became his third signing in as many days.
Marshall whose half-season long loan deal ended with a divot at Stamford Bridge barely before it had started had signed a three-year deal with the Norfolk club after the Canaries eventually agreed an “undisclosed fee” with the Glasgow giants – reported by The Daily Record this morning to be ?750,000, suggested to be 'slightly north of that' by City sources.
With Jamie Cureton being unveiled on Monday, Julien Brellier popping up yesterday and the Marshall saga ending today, the City chief suggested he had at least one more trick up his sleeve before pausing for breath and see how pre-season panned out.
He also insisted that Paul Gallacher was still very much part of his squad thoughts with young Joe Lewis likely to follow up his successful loan switch to Stockport County with another spell out on the road. For now, however, Grant was just delighted to get his goalkeeping department nailed down with Marshall likely to face an immediate challenge for the No1 gig by Matt Gilks' arrival earlier this summer.
“Obviously the most important thing for me, from day one, was the fact that he'd been on loan and was so impressed by the time that he was down here that he wanted to join the club if there was an opportunity of that happening,” said Grant.
“And I think that's why I pursued it for longer than I would have for anybody else. He was desperate to be here; we all wanted him here – and that combination finally got us over the line, I think.
“I think when David put in his transfer request that Celtic knew that there was only one place that he wanted to come to. Yet again there were other people interested in him and I think we're very fortunate to have somebody of his quality.”
Much like Brellier's arrival for Youssef Safri, Marshall's arrival drops a big gauntlet at one or two people's feet – not least Gallacher, who could yet find himself missing out on reserve team starts if both Marshall and Gilks are fit.
“We're building a team now that's going to be competitive with eachother – I think that's the most important thing,” said Grant. “And not just on Saturdays – but also on the training field. That players will now that they'll have to play at their very best – and train at their very best – if they're going to be selected.”
Cue an almighty bunfight for that No1 slot.
“Paul's still here; still part of the squad. And I've said before that I'll never rule anybody out because as we've seen last year, we know what injuries do to you.
“It can decimate you. All of a sudden you thought you were out of the picture and then you're back in the picture,” said the City chief, with Gallacher reported to be fit for any forthcoming fight.
“Paul's looked after himself fantastically well and he's been a 100 per cent pro since I came in here. He's handled things exceptionally well; he knows the situation last year; I've told him from day one that I'll be straight with him. But great credit to him – he's trained tremendously hard and is looking a million dollars.”
As for Norwich latest new kid on the block – and coincidence or not, at 22 Marshall arrives in Norfolk at the same age as both Bryan Gunn and Kevin Keelan – he was just delighted to put a long and drawn-out summer behind him.
“It has been a long time coming – it's been a long summer,” said Marshall, whose own determination to get away saw him slip a transfer request underneath Gordon Strachan's door – a bold move in the passionate goldfish bowl of Glasgow football.
It was, it appears, only in the last 72 hours that the wheels finally turned. The fact that Celtic were due to embark on their own pre-season tour this weekend clearly helped concentrate a few minds – as it did with Craig Beattie's switch to West Bromwich Albion.
“I had a good feeling about coming here and felt it was always going to go through – I'm just glad to eventually get down here,” added the Scottish international.
“It has dragged – especially with the injury stuff and all the talk since January right up to the summer. But I'm just glad to be here in time for pre-season and am looking forward to it.”
One final question for Grant came from the floor. Did he think he'd signed the best keeper in the Championship?
“Yes,” was his simple answer.