City new-boy Arturo Lupoli has revealed his love of English football – and just how much more there is to come from the one-time Gunners starlet.
Alongside on-loan Portsmouth striker Omar Alieu Koroma, Lupoli remains one of the bigger 'wild cards' in Glenn Roeder's pack this season.
Wes Hoolohan is a known quantity; 'OJ' and Lupoli come in the 'Who knows?' category. One comes off for the City chief and the Canaries might have the kind of firepower that they need to drive into the top half of the table and, potentially, beyond. Both fire into Championship life and City's wretched record of being little more than mid-table also-rans of late could change dramatically.
And after a season in which his career effectively stood still on loan at Serie B side Treviso last season, Lupoli was clearly intent on rediscovering the kind of form and fortune that saw him smash one goal-scoring record after another as a 17-year-old in Italy.
The English game, it appears, suits him. People tend to take a punt on young players; it has both the pace and the space that suits someone of his young and explosive potential.
“I prefer the English game,” he said, speaking to the Press after yesterday's 2-2 draw with Colchester United and his first 45 minutes in a Canary shirt.
“It suits more the way I play, so I would like to play in England for more than a year – and maybe get in the Premier League with this team. It would be a dream.”
The other reality is, of course, that should Lupoli shine but Norwich just fall short of, say, the play-off line, the 21-year-old may get his wish anyway. The Championship remains the biggest shop window in the world for players seeking a ticket into the English top flight.
And while Lupoli himself may be determined to do well for the Norfolk club, his representatives will be seeing the bigger pictures – and the bigger opportunities – that his sudden re-appearance in the Championship offers.
The player himself appears convinced that there is the capacity to do well – as and when this summer's army of new faces and characters beds in together.
“The team is a strong team; we just need to know eachother better because there is three or four new players,” said Lupoli, with Roeder's summer shopping list actually up to ten at the last count.
“Everything is there; we have a strong defender; we just need to be patient and the results will come.”
For a player who had re-written the record books goals-wise as a 17-year-old; earned a high-profile move to Arsenal as a result and then a big, long-term contract with the Viola after that, last year's barren spell with Treviso must have been frustrating; again, the Canaries could yet reap the benefit of having a young man with a point to prove in their midst.
“It was a disappointing season with Treviso,” he readily admitted. “I didn't get to play with Fiorentina; then I go to Treviso and play 17 games – a few from the bench; a few from starting.
“But in Italy it is a different kind of football – they want an experienced player and those kind of things. So the choice to come back here was as well to get more games and to get to the level that I think I can get.”
In part, the Canaries also have Spurs new-boy David Bentley to thank for Lupoli's arrival – that and Roeder's powers of persuasion.
“When he [Bentley] was at Arsenal, he spoke to me about Norwich and he said it is a great environment for a young player – to grow up and get to the next stage. So I remembered those words and that's also why I chose Norwich,” said Lupoli, capped at every level up to Under-21 by his country.
The second reason was Roeder's ability to 'sell' both the club and the opportunity; the manager's ability to call in contacts at the very highest level of the European game is also at work.
“I felt that the manager and the club really wanted me and that's why I choose Norwich. I had a few clubs in Italy and one or two in England – and at the end I choose Norwich because I really think it was the right one.”
One, low snap-shot apart, the Canary faithful had to settle for a very technically adept performance from their new Italian striker against the U's. He is still feeling his way into pre-season; much, much more ought to come.
“It was my first game for Norwich and my first game of the season, so I wasn't like 100 per cent but I gave my best and I think we had a good performance,” said Lupoli, with the Italian FA hardly helping his rapid transition back to the English game. Ten days after his year-long loan switch was agreed and the international clearance finally arrived.
“It's been quite frustrating – I was expecting to play against Spurs and I didn't. So it wasn't the best start – I really wanted to play against Spurs, but in the end it comes and I play today. So I am happy for this,” he said.
“I'm trying to train as hard as I can, so I can get where my team-mates are. I will get there. Maybe in one or two games. But it is only by playing that I can reach the best performance.”
Roeder also revealed afterwards that he had been carrying a slight groin strain going into yesterday's final dress rehearsal – a player playing well within himself, therefore. For now, at least.
“About 60-70 per cent,” said Lupoli, quizzed as to his current fitness level. “But in two to three weeks I can go to 100.”