A deal that suited every party – that appeared to be the message this evening as the Canaries officially confirmed they had all-but completed a £2 million plus deal for Huddersfield Town winger Anthony Pilkington. Or rather nearer £1 million, according to the man from Sky.
The player was “absolutely delighted”; City boss Paul Lambert was just “delighted”; his former manager Lee Clark was “proud” of the transfer switch; whilst Town chairman Dean Hoyle appeared chuffed to bits after “getting the deal we wanted” for the 23-year-old prospect.
In short, therefore, everyone was happy as Pilkington became City’s sixth signing of the summer, the one-time Manchester United trainee agreeing a three-year deal with the Norfolk club, with the option of a further, fourth year.
He has also completed a lengthy medical after his season ended early with the broken leg and dislocated ankle sustained in the home win over Rochdale last March. Time enough, however, for him to earn a place in the PFA’s League One Team of the Year.
“I’m absolutely delighted to make the move having passed my medical,” Pilkington told Norwich’s official website today, as he followed James Vaughan, Steve Morison, Ritchie de Laet, Elliott Bennett and Bradley Johnson through the door.
All of whom greeted the new arrival as he was given the full, guided tour of Colney.
“I met all the lads today and met the Gaffer, so yes I’m absolutely delighted,” added Pilkington, given the licence to thrill next season by his new manager.
“Paul [Lambert] just told me to go and relish playing in the Premier League,” said signing No6, as Lambert made yet another young man’s dreams come true.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world. When you’re a boy you dream of playing in it one day. It’s great to see the club is on the up and we’ll be fighting tooth and nail to stay in the Premier League.”
From Lambert’s perspective, he had bagged the services of another young, hungry Football League tyro. At six-foot tall, he was the kind of athlete that the Premier League demands.
And having dipped his toe into non-league, he knows how the other half get to live.
“He is a top lad and has a real enthusiasm for the game,” said Lambert, the ‘character question’ clearly having been asked and answered.
“I am sure that Anthony will be a big player for us,” added the City chief. “He was great for Huddersfield in his time there and he will add to the team for the season ahead.”
Able to play either left or right, the arrival of first Bennett and now Pilkington ensures that the Canaries can go into battle with a nicely-balanced 4-4-2 formation – or rather can swiftly switch to it, if the Wes Hoolahan diamond of old doesn’t quite sparkle in the higher flight.
And Pilkington is also one with a potential re-sale value. There is an investment argument to be had for picking out the best 23-year-olds in the Football League.
Back in Yorkshire and Clark admitted it was a day of ‘mixed emotions’ having fought hard to keep one of his star turns on the books. However, talent will out – the chance to play in the top tier of English football was an opportunity they couldn’t deny the young man.
Particularly given the size of the cheque attached, was to be the chairman’s line.
“I’m obviously very sad to see Anthony go, as you become a good manager by having good players – and he is very good,” the former Canary No2 told Huddersfield supporters tonight.
The fact that he had the ability to step up to the highest level had always crossed the manager’s mind, said Clark. He knew that one day the call would come.
“From day one of his arrival at this club I stated that he had the potential to play in the Premier League and we knew that this day might come,” Clark told the Huddersfield Examiner.
“To be fair to Anthony, I don’t believe he would have left the club to go to a Championship club. He has absolutely loved his time here and only the opportunity to play at the highest level has triggered his decision to leave.
“I have a mixture of sadness and pride over his transfer, but I believe he will be a success at Norwich.”
Chairman Hoyle was delighted with the final deal. The claim in Yorkshire tonight was that the deal could yet near £3 million – if every add-on was met and exercised.
“We did not need to sell Anthony for financial reasons but at the same time we did not want to stand in his way.
“We have secured the deal we wanted. It is a multi-million pound deal which could easily prove the best in the club’s history.”