So… how about that for a Saturday morning surprise.
Just 15 short months after snubbing Manchester United, Ricky van Wolfswinkel finds himself on the cusp of wearing the famous yellow and green. One can only hope he’s not been discombobulated by watching Portuguese coverage of the Premier League and, after seeing the ‘green and gold’ on show at Old Trafford, isn’t expecting to be greeted on 1st July by Sir Alex.
Whether a stop-off at Carrow Road was ever on the van Wolfswinkel master-plan is a little doubtful, but while we have the king of the wheeler-dealers at our helm just about anything seems possible. That’s certainly how it felt at around 07:30 yesterday morning.
If just knowing that we were ‘going for it’ with real intent wasn’t exciting enough – Sporting Lisbon’s announcement to the Portuguese Stock Exchange providing confirmation that talks were afoot – to hear that the deal had been concluded was positively thrilling. In terms of the excitement generated this is certainly right up there with Boxing Day 2003 when one Darren Huckerby made his official Carrow Road bow following the loan spell to end all loan spells.
As always, there are those who attempt to pour cold water on good news; talkSPORT ‘shock-jock’ Adrian Durham typically taking to Twitter to continue his season-long #NCFC baiting, claiming the excitable reaction of City fans to be ‘ridiculous’. (And yes, of course he does it deliberately to evoke a reaction – like this one – but it’s still tiresome).
While nothing is guaranteed and every signing represents an element of risk (Fernando Torres anyone?) those who arrive accompanied by a hefty price tag are clearly, on the scale of probability, more likely to succeed than those who pitch up at Colney in exchange for a set of training cones and a bag of footballs.
If we didn’t know it already, David McNally has proven to us yet again what a shrewd operator he is and together, with Chris Hughton’s proven eye for a player, everything points to them having secured us a gem. Someone whose arrival will bring some much needed quality to a squad already well stocked with willingness, hunger, desire and work-rate; someone who will bring a ruthless, cutting edge in front of goal – one quality lacking from the class of 2012/13.
There are still lots of ifs and buts of course – nothing can be taken for granted until he is seen putting in the Colney miles come early July – and, like any player, he’s only one mis-timed tackle away from an injury lay-off. But, while I expect the ‘Ricky’ effigies to sell out in that small Suffolk town (telling them he has a wife called Bianca should be enough to throw them off the scent) a suggested four-year deal gives him ample time to make his presence felt in the Fine City.
In a Q&A with the club’s official website he describes joining City as ‘… the perfect next step in my career’; an indication that he views his planned time in Norwich – while not necessarily a master-plan milestone – as an ideal platform on which to hone his skills en route to the top. If we’re perceived as a stepping stone – providing he delivers – does it matter… it’s the classic win-win.
The fact he was once also, reportedly, on the radar of Tottenham and Liverpool – in addition to the aforementioned dally with Man Utd – gives further credence to his reputation; one that was forged in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem (albeit 14 years after THE event) and FC Utrecht, and latterly enhanced in the Primeira Liga with Sporting Lisbon.
While the 2011 overtures of Sir Alex were rebuffed – a move to one of the big boys perhaps a little early in his career back then – the timing of City’s second attempt coincided nicely with the Lisbon club’s urgent need for a cash injection. In true McNally fashion City’s move was timely and clinical.
Upon the close of the January transfer window, the CEO (@davidmcnally62 for those that way inclined) tweeted, ‘We did have interest in strikers. Our main international target was available for 20m euros. We don’t have 20m euros’.
There’s nothing to suggest that young RvW was the said ’target’, but I don’t recall City being linked with any other strikers from across the Channel in those frantic final few January days – and I’m expecting McNally’s geography to be proficient enough to rule out a reference to Gary Hooper. If me putting 2 and 2 together does – just this once – come to 4 everything points to a cut-price deal; ½ price in fact. A clinical, razor-sharp deal in the mould of its creator.
So… sale of the century? Time will tell, but it will certainly look a whole lot better if the first City shirt donned by our Dutchman is one that carries the Premier League logo on its arm.
Let’s not even consider the alternative… I’d hate to spoil the moment.
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