Norwich City’s pre-season preparations took a potentially extraordinary twist this afternoon when The Daily Mail newspaper reported that the club had accepted a big money bid for skipper Grant Holt.
According to this afternoon’s story: ‘Premier League new boys Norwich are ready to sell skipper and top scorer Grant Holt in a move that will stun supporters.
‘Sportsmail understands the Canaries have agreed a fee of around £2million with a Championship club, believed to be big-spending promotion favourites Leicester, for the burly hit-man.
‘Foxes’ boss Sven-Goran Eriksson has moved for Holt after losing out on Republic of Ireland ace Shane Long, who now looks certain to clinch an £8 million move to the Premiership…’
The 30-year-old, two-time Player of the Season has been one of the driving forces behind Norwich’s back-to-back promotions.
His potential exit will, indeed, stun supporters – if the story unfolds as The Mail suggests.
Even if the two clubs have agreed a fee, the City skipper could opt to stay put and fight for his first team place in the Premiership.
Holt’s 45 league goals in just 84 league outings has underpinned City’s return to the top flight; likewise, the mantle of captaincy has always sat very easily on his shoulders. He has led by example from the front.
He also only signed a new, three-year deal to stay at Carrow Road in April.
If true, to accept a Foxes’ bid now – less than ten days before the start of the new season – will merely underline how much money talks in the modern professional game and how little room for sentiment Canary chief Paul Lambert allows in his pursuit of Premier League survival glory.
Leicester have already been linked to a £6 million swoop for Reading’s star turn Long; the fact that he might have bigger fish to fry in the top flight could have prompted Eriksson’s dramatic switch to Norfolk.
Money would appear to be no object at newly-christened ‘King Power’ Stadium and the former England boss was dropping big hints this week that he was close to making another big signing as the Foxes made their promotion-intent clear.
Bristol City’s Nicky Maynard has, apparently, been the subject of three bids with Tottenham’s Robbie Keane another possible target.
Eriksson told the Leicester Mercury that North Korea striker Jong Tae Se was another on his summer shopping list.
But it his reported successful chase of City skipper Holt that will send the biggest shock waves through the Canary Nation today – coming less than 24 hours after the 30-year-old figured large in last night’s 1-1 pre-season friendly with Real Zaragoza.
Not a hint, not a trace of a move to be seen. But then football wouldn’t be football without events taking a wholly unexpected turn every once in a while.
“We are working on different targets and I am not sure if something will happen before next Saturday or not but sooner or later it will happen,” Eriksson told The Leicester Mercury newspaper this week.
“Jong is one on a long list. I know him. He played for North Korea in the World Cup. He is a good striker but he is only one name on a long, long list.”
Today and the Foxes were busily announcing the capture of Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes.
“Gelson is a hugely experienced footballer and we are delighted that he is joining us at King Power Stadium,” Eriksson announced on the official club website. Leicester – the bookies favourites to land the Championship title – open their campaign at the Ricoh Stadium, Coventry, this Saturday.
“Gelson played for me at Manchester City and has also played in Serie A and Ligue 1 in France. He has great energy and determination, qualities which will help us this season,” added Eriksson.
“We are trying to ensure that we have two players for every position and I am sure that Gelson will have a good effect on the squad and the team.”
In a sense, Norwich do at least have a ready-made alternative in Morison. During the course of this summer’s pre-season friendlies, Lambert has played the former Millwall star in a lone striker’s role.
That said, he and Holt were partnered together up front last night, before Aaron Wilbraham arrived for the game’s final 20 minutes.
The fact that Holt arrived for a bargain £400,000 in the summer of 2009 would ensure that the Canaries made a healthy return on their investment – if they have, indeed, to cash in one of their star assets on the eve of the season.
But it would still be a day of days if Holt were, indeed, Leicester-bound this evening. Even by Norwich’s formidable standards, the skipper exiting stage right at this point of the summer would truly take some believing.