Dutch international midfielder Leroy Fer tonight became Chris Hughton’s sixth signing of an increasingly busy summer as the 23-year-old agreed a four-year deal with the Canaries.
What makes this signing more significant than most is one simple statistic – Fer’s height.
At six-foot two-inches tall, he is the perfect, rangy athlete that fits the Premier League model to the proverbial ‘T’.
Equally, for all the willing work-rate of a Bradley Johnson, the neat precision of a Jonny Howson or the twinkling toes of a Wes Hoolahan, none offer the height of new-boy Fer. Nor, indeed, his scoring record – the one-time Feyenoord youngster averaging just less than a goal every three games for the FC Twente.
It was at Feyenoord as a teenager that his physical attributes first marked him out as one to watch. His nickname, apparently, was ‘De Uitsmijter’ (The Bouncer).
Little wonder that then Everton boss David Moyes was keen to bring the player to Goodison last January; nor is there much reason to doubt Hughton’s delight at this weekend’s news. He may well have just slammed a big piece of his new-look spine into place.
The fact that Fer might find himself latching on to anything loose that fellow Dutchman Ricky van Wolfswinkel might drop his way merely adding to the sense of a decent piece of summer business from the Norfolk club.
“We are really pleased to have acquired the signature of a player with the qualities that Leroy has,” City chief Hughton told the club’s official website tonight.
“He’s a very versatile Dutch international and at 23 he has that pleasing balance of having acquired experience playing over 100 games in the Dutch League – but still having plenty of time ahead of him to continue his development as a player here with us at Norwich City.”
As skipper of the Dutch Under-17s, one presumes that the teenage Fer must have had a little bit of character about him; it wasn’t simply down to his ‘powerhouse’ credentials style-wise.
And Moyes, of course, is no mean judge of a player.
Speaking earlier this summer, Fer clearly had no hard feelings towards the Merseyside club. It was just one of those where the timing never quite fitted.
But it is clear that the midfielder has had his heart set on making a name for himself across the North Sea for quite a while.
Perhaps Norwich’s geography for once worked to the club’s advantage; it is but a short hop back home on a Saturday night for the Fers of this world.
Quizzed as to whether Everton rekindled their interest following the change in management this summer, Fer remained in limbo – until Norwich moved in for their man.
“I haven’t heard about anything but I think my manager did,” said Fer, speaking in May. “I think Everton are still interested in me.
“I would like to go to the Premier League this summer, it’s a very nice competition – but my focus has been the European Championships, afterwards we will see.”
Holland reached the last four of this summer’s European Under-21 Championships in Israel before being beaten by Italy in the semi-finals.
There were, it appears, other reasons why the deal with Everton never quite materialised – medical concerns over a knee injury and Twente’s search for a straight cash deal were cited as being significant at the time.
Again, it may well prove once again that the Canaries – free from debt and two more years of Grant Holt’s wages – can now splash the cash with greater ease than an Everton.
Despite the best efforts of chairman Bill Kenwright to find a new backer for the club, the Toffees were reported to be £46 million in debt this spring. Little wonder they were keen on an a HP deal with Twente.
Javier Garrido, van Wolfswinkel, Nathan Redmond, Martin Olsson and Carlo Nash complete the six ‘new’ faces that Hughton has thus far added to his 2013-2014 Premier League pack.
Football being football, what new-boy Fer might have failed to notice was who Norwich’s first opponents of the season were – Everton (h). Obviously.