City boss Paul Lambert barely had time to pause for breath before being strongly linked to his fourth – potentially fifth – signing of the summer in the shape of Manchester United’s 22-year-old Belgian left-back Ritchie De Laet.
On a year-long loan deal pending a medical, according to Sky Sports News this evening.
The Canary chief – notoriously secretive when it comes to his transfer dealings – admitted that his Premiership recruitment plans were coming along very nicely as he chaired the signing-in ceremony for Brighton winger Elliott Bennett this lunch-time.
“It’s gone well at the minute,” was the manager’s response to the inevitable ‘How’s it going?’ question.
Read the Yorkshire Evening Post and they would insist that holding midfielder Bradley Johnson is also somewhere in the mix after arriving on a free transfer. His name wasn’t mentioned; nor was that of De Laet – that was left to Sky.
“I knew what we had to do from the moment we won that Portsmouth game,” said the Canary, chief yet to embark on his own, well-earned break.
“And, yes, there might be one or two that you don’t manage to get in, but that’s the nature of the game,” he admitted. “But the one’s that we have identified so far, we have got. I certainly didn’t want to go on holiday thinking: ‘He’s got away…’ or ‘That’s another one we haven’t got…’
“So, I’d much rather do as much as we can [now] so when we start the lads will have a month or so all together.”
The left-sided De Laet appears to be one that Sir Alex Ferguson is grooming for future stardom offering the ability to play anywhere down the left – as well as stepping into that left-sided centre-half role if the situation demanded.
The one-time Stoke City teenager made 31 appearances all told in the Championship last season – a handful apiece for first Sheffield United and then Preston North End before ‘graduating’ to a 22-game spell with Portsmouth.
Indeed, he played for Pompey in City’s 1-0 win at Fratton Park which swept the Canaries back into the big-time.
Pompey boss Steve Cotterill ran through the player’s list of attributes as he signed in at Fratton Park last January.
“We feel he will be a very, very good addition to our squad,” Cotterill told The News.
“He will give us pace, which is what we need. He is a good athlete and adding that pace to the side is important,” added the Pompey chief. S
hould tonight’s reports prove correct, then Marc Tierney, Adam Drury and Simon Lappin will have competition for their places.
“Ritchie has lots of energy to get up and down. There’s no doubt he’s quick,” added Cotterill. Like every manager the world over, pace is a big, big thing in the world of professional sport. You can’t get enough of it in The Premiership
“That’s a big thing to have in the game nowadays,” said Cotterill. “He’s versatile and brings good quality to the side as well. He’s sound defensively. He won’t get done easily and will help us out back there.”
Now, according to Sky tonight, the time is ripe for De Laet to find his feet in the Premiership. He’s done his tour of duty in The Championship.
Whether Lambert has played ‘the Glasgow card’ to nip in ahead of a number of other potential suitors is for everyone else to guess. It can’t have hurt – as Lambert proved with his loan capture of Dani Pacheco off Kenny Dalglish’s Liverpool.
So the Canary chief, clearly, can not only gain a hearing with the master of Old Trafford but then persuade the United supremo that Norfolk would be the ideal place to add a final spot of polish to his six-foot one-inch defensive starlet.
De Laet’s loan spell at Deepdale was cut short when Ferguson Jnr lost his job with the Lilywhites – at which point the defender was swiftly recalled to HQ before being despatched to Portsmouth.
He has enjoyed a curious career thus far – to Old Trafford via first Royal Antwerp in his home country of Belgium, from there to Stoke City, to Bournemouth, to Wrexham and on to become United’s Reserve team Player of the Year for the 2009-2010 season.
But now opportunity knocks to prove that his is the full, Premiership article – ideally, to Norwich’s advantage.