The hastily-laid plans of Messrs Lambert and McNally tonight looked to have worked wonders as the Canaries did, indeed, land an eleventh hour deadline day signing in the shape of Peterborough’s England Under-21 centre-half Ryan Bennett.
According to the London Road club, Norwich paid nigh-on £3.2 million for the young man’s services this evening.
He will not, however, be hot-footing it up to the North-East to join his new team-mates in preparing for tonight’s Premier League clash against Sunderland. Instead, he will be loaned back to Posh until the end of this month as they seek a replacement for the 6ft 1in 21-year-old.
Tonight and the club’s official website confirmed that – subject to the usual paperwork – Bennett had signed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Canaries. The fact that he was, relatively, that close to Carrow Road geographically will have helped to speed through the deal ahead of this evening’s 11pm deadline.
The player’s own ambition to follow former Posh skipper Russell Martin into Norfolk to gain a slice of that Premiership action also played its part in pushing the deal along.
“I’m delighted we have signed Ryan,” City chief Paul Lambert said tonight, as he laid out the qualities he saw in the former Grimsby trainee. Who, before that, was released by Ipswich Town as a 16-year-old. Their loss was tonight Norwich’s gain.
“He can play, he’s got great vision, he’s comfortable on the ball and he’s a good age, too. He will be staying at Peterborough initially, but will join us in time to be available for the Stoke game.”
Peterborough didn’t do too badly out of the deal either given that he came to London Road just 12 months ago for £500,000. A year later and Posh are at least £2 million better off as they claimed the deal smashed their previous record sale – the £2.5 million they received from Brighton for Craig Mikail-Smith.
Club chairman Darragh MacAnthony insisted that it was a great deal for Posh. This morning and the Peterborough Evening Telegraph had the defender off to Swansea. The fact that Norwich managed to nip in ahead of their South Wales rivals will have made tonight’s deal even sweeter for City manager and chief executive alike.
“We knew when we signed Ryan from Grimsby we were getting a player with fantastic potential – that’s why we paid the money that we did at the time,” MacAnthony explained to the Posh faithful this evening.
The player’s own ambitions also had to be listened to, he claimed.
“Myself and the Gaffer [Darren Ferguson] had very little choice in the matter as the player informed us last night and again today that he wanted to play for a Premier League club and he didn’t want the club to stand in his way.
“The Gaffer was given the final call on this deal only a couple of hours ago and he decided that it was in the best interests of Peterborough United Football Club to accept the offer from Norwich.”
With fellow, £3 million new-boy Jonny Howson currently sidelined through injury, Canary fans will need a little bit of patience before gaining a real insight into just who – and what – Lambert has brought into the Colney fold this window.
Both players look to follow the mould in being hungry and ambitious to get on; both have their best footballing years ahead of them; both – in theory – should form the spine of the Class of 2012-13 given their respective fees, wages and position.
Speaking at Colney this morning, the Canary boss was clearly hopeful that something might drop in the final 24 hours of the January window – even if, like Howson, Bennett wouldn’t offer an instant impact on Norwich’s season.
But he was still toeing a cautious line.
“There’s things that I’m looking at – whether they come off, I’m not so sure,” he said, giving no clues at that stage as to where his transfer ambitions lay. Just across the Fens was the answer.
“I’ll have to wait and see through the course of the day as to whether it does come off,” he added. “It’s just in the balance at the moment, but hopefully as I say I’ll know more through the course of the day.”
As expected Chrissy Martin’s loan deal to Palace was extended till the end of the season.