According to at least two newspaper reports in Bulgaria today, the Canaries are on the verge of signing 27-year-old CSKA Sofia defender Valentin Iliev for one million euros (?750,000).
Indeed, the daily sports newspaper 'Top Sport' even claimed that the 27-year-old CSKA skipper was in England now and was due to have a medical tomorrow after discussing personal terms with the Canaries.
Thus far, Carrow Road sources have only suggested that Iliev was here 'on trial'. As ever, officials were reluctant to comment on what for now remained speculation. Albeit rife in Eastern Europe. Only when there was something definite to report – be it regarding Iliev or any other potential transfer target – would they add to the standard 'No comment!' line.
One thing is, however, certain. City boss Glenn Roeder is in the market for at least one new centre-half after being obliged to ask 38-year-old Dion Dublin to step into the breach once more for the injured Jason Shackell at the weekend.
And whilst his on-going interest in Blues centre-half Martin Taylor is widely known, Roeder has equally made it clear that he would be more than happy to add two new centre-halves to his thinking if the opportunity arose.
That opportunity would appear to be nigh today with the more sober 'Meridian Match' newspaper even carrying an interview with Iliev himself.
It was, he told the paper, the right time to move on after coming very close to joining Watford this time last year.
Did he look back with regret at not moving to Vicarage Road last January? “I don't have any regrets about not joining Watford – and I can't turn back time,” he told Meridian Match, with everything all but agreed with the Hornets only for a late change of heart and the intervention of then CSKA chairman to end the deal.
Iliev said he would not be discussing the reasons behind his decision to move this January, but did point to the growing influx of Bulgarians into the higher reaches of the English game as one of the factors behind his decision to quit CSKA.
The Bulgarian giants are ten points clear at the top of the Bulgarian top flight, but are out of Europe after losing out on away goals to Toulouse in this autumn's UEFA Cup qualifiers.
The fact that Iliev shares the same agent as Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov – Emil Dantchev – may also help explain why Iliev is in a position to answer Roeder's call for reinforcements.
With Martin Petrov also proving the real deal at Manchester City, Bulgarian football has never had it so good in England.
“We should all be grateful to Petrov and Berbatov,” Iliev told the Meridian, seeing his two international team-mates as the standard bearers for Bulgarian football. “And I am a big fan of British football – I like the physical type of football that they play.”
Alex Bivol, English-speaking sports reporter for Sofia News Agency, confirmed the widespread feeling in Bulgaria that it was time for Iliev to spread his wings and fly the nest. Iliev has already found himself linked to both Energie Cottbus in the German Bundesliga as well as Racing Club Strasbourg as the player and his agent make full use of Bulgaria's mid-winter break to find potential pastures new.
“When players like Iliev reach the age of 26, 27 they tend to hit a glass ceiling in Bulgaria and he really needs to move on to the next level now,” said Bivol, with Iliev announcing his presence on the English stage with his wonder goal at Anfield in CSKA's Champions League clash with Liverpool.
“He is one of CSKA's more consistent performers and has told the newspapers here that he likes the physical nature of the game in the United Kingdom,” added the reporter.
Again Bivol pointed to the influence of both Berbatov and his agent Dantchev in opening the doors to both the Premiership and the Championship.
“Before now and there was only really Radostin Kishishev – who I believe is now at Leicester – who had made his mark in English football from Bulgaria. But now players like Berbatov at Spurs and Petrov at Manchester City are opening up the way for more Bulgarian players to come over.”
Blackburn Rovers are currently running the rule over young striker Valery Domovchiyski, while as well as Petrov, Sven Goran Eriksson also has Valery Bojinov at Eastlands – albeit sidelined for most of the season with a serious knee injury.
The fact that Iliev is a current Bulgarian international and featured twice in their Group G Euro2008 qualifying campaign should ease any work permit requirements – if, of course, those widespread Bulgarian newspaper reports aren't wholly wide of the mark.
“I've had other offers in the past, but until now I have never thought about leaving CSKA,” Iliev told the Meridian this morning. “Now I think it is the right time.”