Glenn Roeder's hopes of adding a beautiful little mover to his 2008-2009 plans within “48 hours” were tonight looking slightly optimistic as Omar Koroma's reported loan switch to Norwich via first Gambia and then Portsmouth became mired in red tape.
Sources both on the South Coast and, indeed, closer to home in the shape of the Norwich Evening News pin-pointed the 18-year-old striker as the one that the City chief identified in the wake of Monday night's 5-1 defeat by Premiership Spurs.
“He's just a beautiful mover; fantastic,” said Roeder, as the guessing games began immediately.
Roeder's long-standing friendship with Gunners boss Arsene Wenger was an obvious first port of call – coupled to the fact that he has already made much of the way that Arsenal players have the kind of athleticism that allows them to glide across the pitch, personified in last season's loan starlet, Kieran Gibbs.
However, it now appears that it is Roeder's old boss at Upton Park – Harry Redknapp – who could be in line to do the Norfolk side “a big favour” with the loan deal for 'OJ'.
First, old Harry has to get the player himself to sign, seal and deliver on a full-time contract at Fratton Park; only then can the youngster's next, expected move on loan to Norwich proceed.
Given the difficulties Norwich have already encountered this summer ratifying Arturo Lupoli's loan switch from Fiorentina via the Italian Football Association, the chances of the Gambian FA being bang on the money paperwork-wise as they look to process the international clearance needed for the youngster to make his full-time move from 'The Hawks' to Portsmouth are likely to be nil.
And then he has to get from Pompey to Norwich – with loan fees and agents once again attached.
As and when it does, finally, go through, Koroma will become the first-ever Gambian to play in the Premiership.
His route there may, in part, owe something to another East End 'old boy' – the former boxing promoter Ambrose Mendy who was quoted by The Daily Observer newspaper in Gambia last year as being 'a sports and entertainment consultant' in the United Kingdom. Mendy was now looking to bring his rich and varied list of contacts to bear in the transfer of promising players from the tiny West African state to the Premiership.
Mendy – one-time agent to Paul Ince and a long associate of Nigel Benn – has had a colourful life. There were also reports that he had also teamed up with ex-Canary youngster John Fashanu now promoting his own football talent TV show in Nigeria.
“I believe Gambian footballers should be or could be significant forces in the international playing market,” Mendy was quoted as saying by the Daily Observer – based in the Gambian capital of Banjul.
How Koroma finally gets to Norfolk is probably of little or no concern to the Canary faithful. The fact remains that Harry Redknapp knows a player when he sees one – and from whatever corner of the globe they come from.
And Roeder is desperately keen to give Jamie Cureton some company up front – particularly such a beautiful mover as Krumah.
All he needs is a little polishing up before being unleashed on the top flight of the English game next season – for now a raw and hungry West African talent looks to be heading up the A11. Albeit not in the '48 hours' that Roeder originally hoped.
“He was at Southampton last year, they wanted him but could not get a work permit but he's married now so that's no longer a problem,” Redknapp told the Portsmouth News this week after watching the lad go to work in two of Pompey's early pre-season games.
“OJ has done well, he's only 18 and I think he's a real prospect,” added Redknapp.
“The lad was recommended to me so we had him over for the last couple of weeks and he's been tremendous. He's quick and has got a lot of everything.
'The kid wants to do well, he's willing to learn and, hopefully, he can do well here,” said Redknapp, with the FA Cup trophy now adorning the Fratton Park mantelpiece.
“I have already had half a dozen clubs wanting to play him this season, most of them are from the Championship,” he added, with Norwich apparently firmly in the box seat.
“And I like OJ. He could be one for the future. He isn't ready for the Premier League, though.”
He may well, however, be more than ready for a crack at the Championship.
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