This morning`s pre-Sunderland press conference at Colney revealed quite a few eye opening things as far as Norwich City and Alex Neil`s pursuit of new recruits are concerned.
The first thing of note is that Neil confirmed his interest in Roma striker, Mattia Destro and insisted that talks are on-going with a number of players and clubs.
“There are on-going negotiations with quite a few players, not just players but clubs and agents and different things like that,” Neil told the EDP. “Yes, he is a player who has been discussed. I have said before I won`t just go and sign players, I will wait to the end if I have to. I need to sign players I think are going to add to the group and make us stronger and better. That is probably why it is taking so long.”
The enormity of that innocent comment “Yes, he is a player who has been discussed” has sent shock waves through the national media. Every media outlet and paper (and their dog) have seized upon this and published it, basically due to the profile of the player. Destro was widely touted as Italy`s “next big thing” a couple of years ago and was linked with Chelsea and Real Madrid then.
All of this media frenzy is despite the fact that Bologna are still in the driving seat for him with an agreement in principle for a season long loan and option to buy. I read this morning that Destro wants more money from Bologna, something that Norwich could seemingly offer though. The reported fee to buy Destro is around £5m, which is an absolute steal if Roma will let the lad go for that.
Neil also said that basically, the club have found that Norwich are “not an attractive proposition” to many established Premier league players due to the fact they are not yet established in the top flight. Stoke, West Brom and Crystal Palace have done this with Palace doing it in just three seasons and attracting some very good players as a result.
“That is the reality” Neil added.
That is the reality indeed. My opinion on this is that we have most likely attempted to sign some very good players, like Destro. In all honesty, we have to look at that sort of player to make our squad better than it already is and it was already reasonable. Most of our squad have Premier league experience and are able to compete there but very big bucks will be needed to take us to that “next level.”
The reality of getting a centre back better than Russell Martin or Seb Bassong, would mean spending well in excess of £10m in my estimation and then you get into the Catch 22 situation of players wanting to join “better clubs.” A perfect example of this was two summers ago when Norwich had a £7m bid accepted by Ajax for their young Belgian defender, Toby Alderweireld. The player`s agent (his dad) was reported as saying that his son could do better and was aiming for a bigger club than Norwich City – he ended up moving to Atletico Madrid.
That is the reality of what we`re dealing with here, folks. Yes, it`s highly frustrating but I seriously doubt the lack of recruitment is down to a lack of effort from the board. If we stay up then we may find things easier next summer and then the summer after. Established Premier League players do not want to play Championship football and you only have to look at Snodgrass and Brady for evidence of the attraction of the Premier league and I wouldn`t call either of them “top players.”
To that end, I doubt we will go for Dwight Gayle. Alan Pardew spoke on talkSPORT this morning and said that Gayle has asked for a move and another club have made an acceptable offer for him (Bristol City) so the rest is up to Dwight. He is not better than Jerome or Grabban so if you want to improve the squad you need to buy the likes of Mattia Destro or someone of that ilk.
I would still be surprised if we managed to sign Destro but would love it if we could pull it off. There are so many reasons why such a player who has Italian national caps, plays for Roma and has also played for AC Milan would dismiss “little Norwich” but in the crazy world of football, you just never know, I`m keeping everything crossed.