And so as one game ends, another one starts (apparently)…
For with a fee duly agreed with Millwall for their want-away striker Steve Morison, so tonight all eyes were turning to the South Coast and City’s reported quest to add Brighton winger Elliott Bennett to Paul Lambert’s fast-growing Premiership pack.
Like the long-signed James Vaughan, the City chief appears to be re-visiting former January transfer targets – now, of course, armed with a ticket to the Premier League for those still sat on the Scot’s summer shopping list.
Morison, of course, was going nowhere according to Lions boss Kenny Jackett as the South London side first rejected Norwich’s latest bid for the 27-year-old and then rejected the player’s own written transfer request.
In the end, however, persistence clearly paid off as Millwall accepted a fourth bid for the striker’s services and, reluctantly, allowed player and prospective new employer to talk personal terms.
The alternative was to reject all advances on the back of the new deal Morison signed only as recently as February and have one, unhappy soldier sat in their midst.
New, improved bid and money duly talked – Jackett’s best efforts at keeping a player plucked out of relative non-league obscurity for £100,000 thwarted.
“We have allowed Steve to talk to a Premiership club having negotiated a deal that matches our valuation,” the club’s chief executive Andy Ambler told the official Lions site.
“It is now for Norwich and Steve to agree terms.”
Those discussions are, no doubt, continuing as City look to tie up their second, big signing of the summer.
As for a third, the claim this evening was that Norwich had now agreed a fee with Brighton for the 22-year-old Bennett. City have ‘previous’ in this case. They went a-knocking in January with talk of a £1 million bid for the young winger.
Lambert also has another trick up his sleeve in the shape of ex-Brighton skipper Andrew Crofts – a big pal of the one-time Wolves youngster.
Speaking to the Brighton Evening Argus on the back of Norwich’s promotion to the top flight, Bennett was candid enough to admit that the Canaries’ might well revive their interest in him. Until that point, however, he was just happy to see Crofts hitting the big-time with his new employers.
“It just shows how a winning mentality, a good team and good group of players can achieve success,” Bennett told the Argus, after playing a key role in Brighton’s own League One promotion success this season.
That is the other interesting point to the Bennett chase – once again Lambert is bolting ‘winners’ into his side; player who have already tasted promotion success.
Be it a Morison at Millwall or a Russell Martin at Peterborough, he is adding players that are already used to that winning feeling.
Equally, he is picking up players who play games. Bennett played 53 games for the Seagulls last term; just as Martin would play every minute of every game for the Canaries. Morison, likewise, was all-but an ever-present for Millwall. No question marks over their physical durability.
Hungry, committed and used to success – key ingredients in any Lambert transfer target.
So Crofts’ experience at Norwich this season could well pave the way for Bennett to follow. In much the same way that John Ruddy helped ease the Vaughan deal from their time at Everton together.
“I’m buzzing for Crofty, because he is a friend of mine and everyone at the club wished him well,” said Bennett, who – speaking at the start of May – was willing to wonder out loud whether Lambert would return again this summer following that first, January nibble.
“I don’t know. At that time they were in the Championship and now they are in the promised land, really,” he said. “That opens a much broader choice of players they can attract to the football club.”
At the time Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom played the initial Jackett card – ‘No thanks…’
“There’s interest, we can’t deny that,” Bloom said, speaking back in January. “There has been interest from Norwich, but we do not want Elliott to go anywhere and we have made that clear to them.”
What he’s making clear tonight, however, might be a completely different matter.