Succession planning is pivotal for any long-term success. Norwich have five young talents that will attract interest this summer, but who is ready to step in and replace them?
Max Aarons, Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia. City’s five saleable assets whose auction price will all start at £20million.
Max has been linked with a £30million move to Spurs, but with Kyle Walker-Peters impressing at Southampton and Jose Mourinho’s uncertainty over the England U-21 international, Aarons’ route back to Premier League football might not be as clear as it initially appears.
It may well result in another season of Championship football for Aarons, but the club are well equipped should he be poached. Sam Byram has shown promise and versatility, emerging as Norwich’s most efficient piece of transfer business.
He is clearly in pole position to fill Max’s shoes, but injury issues may proliferate Jordan Thomas’ development. Should Max stay, Jordan may well be better off going elsewhere on loan, but considering we also have Lukas Rupp’s versatility and Bali Mumba’s impending arrival to supplement right-back options, they’re in a healthy position in this department.
Ben Godfrey, if you believe the nationals, has a £50million price-tag slapped on his head, but don’t let that fool you into thinking a £49million bid wouldn’t be sufficient. He’s a ductile central defender who has the capability of being moulded into any Premier League team, but to spend that amount and play him anywhere else other than centre-half would be foolish.
Typically deployed on the left of a two-man pairing, Ben has been used on the right since Project Restart, due to the injuries suffered by Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann. Both would appear uncomfortable on the opposite side, so regardless of whether Godfrey stays or goes, a left-sided centre-back is paramount this summer.
Akin Famewo was making pleasing progress on loan at St Mirren in the SPFL but was a victim of the premature ending of the footballing season. The Luton academy product would no doubt have benefitted from a further eight games in a first-team environment and may well be sent back out on loan to compensate for this loss. However, the lure of having a left-footed centre-back for the first time during his three year tenure may prove to be too strong for Daniel Farke to resist.
Jamal Lewis is arguably at the bottom of City list of saleable assets. Despite rumours surrounding a move to Crystal Palace for circa £20million, Project Restart has highlighted his need for further development.
Should no sufficient bids be made, Jamal will remain a City player. Stuart Webber’s succession planning in recruiting Sam McCallum at the time he did may well prove to be a stroke of genius, but with Sam’s ex-club Coventry City playing in the same division as the Canaries, there probably isn’t a better place for him to develop than in the Midlands.
Todd Cantwell is undoubtedly the most marketable asset of the five. A generous social media presence, interactions with fellow celebrities and a premium brand deal with Puma all adds to the picture. Humble, yet courageous – maybe slightly too courageous at times – but a must-win relegation six-pointer was probably not the time to add a unique French plait hairstyle to the list of marketable features.
The role and impact Danel Sinani will have at Norwich remains to be seen. The Luxembourg international was technically a part-time player and City were planning on incorporating him earlier if COVID hadn’t occurred, so expectations should remain minimal for the free signing. That doesn’t however mean the rewards won’t be bountiful.
If Todd is the most marketable, then Emi is the most talented. Whilst Ben will arguably attract the highest bid due to his profile (and agent!), it is hard to look beyond Emi for possessing the most natural talent. His bellicosity is as prevalent as his tendency to infuriate, but we’re all aware of the chance creation statistics he’s produced this season.
The Canaries’ lack of natural width has granted Josh Martin with a handful of first-team games earlier than he might have expected. Since joining from Arsenal last summer, Martin has accelerated through the youth-system and now finds himself a regular member of Farke’s matchday squad.
Under the guidance of Steve Weaver and David Wright, Josh found himself playing on the left, but all three of his brief Premier League appearances have come on the right. It appears apparent Norwich still want another right-sided player, with Dennis Man and Darius Olaru rumoured targets, but time will only tell if City’s premature relegation will result in more minutes for the Arsenal academy product.
Ultimately, all five of the saleable assets will be missed dearly., and not all five will go of course, but regardless of what happens this summer, the club is already in an incredibly strong position when it comes to the personnel Farke & co will have available at their disposal.
Billy is one half of NCFC podcast The Revere End. You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram & Facebook @therevereend and listen to their podcast on Spotify, Apple and Google podcasts.