The sale of Alex Pritchard was always going to be inevitable at some point in the near future.
The same goes for James Maddison (I can hear you all sighing deeply), Timm Klose and Nelson Oliveira. We will also be saying ‘goodbye’ to Alex Tettey in the summer as the club wrestle with a huge wage bill that is like a millstone around it’s neck.
Without Premier League football, the wages that these sorts of players command is not sustainable for a club without billionaire owners, who want to be ‘self sufficient’.
It’s a catch 22 situation for the fans because we all want to keep these sort of players in our squad but realistically, most of us understand that wages of £30-40k per week are not affordable without PL football. The catch then comes because we don’t feel as though we can mount a promotion challenge without these good players.
The reasons behind it are long and numerous and we’ve gone over it many times before here. Basically, mistakes were made.
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Getting back to Alex Pritchard, I first heard yesterday lunchtime that Norwich had accepted an offer from Huddersfield and put it straight up on VN.
I don’t claim to be ‘in the know’ but very occasionally I hear a whisper or two from someone I know that I trust with what they tell me – they’ve not been wrong yet.
I was told that the fee was £11m, which seems cheap to me, I’m not sure about add-ons, I expect there are some and I don’t know if there’s a sell on clause in the original deal that brought him here from Spurs.
If there is and we need to pay something more to Spurs then it’s very cheap.
I was also told that Pritchard is keen on the move and wants to leave for the Premier League. He will of course increase his overall package and salary and here-in lies the problem.
Norwich paid a reported £8.5m to sign him eighteen months ago. He joined us after an infamous U-turn on the motorway when he was on his way to join Brighton.
Let’s be clear, he only joined Norwich because he thought the overall package was better. He probably thought that we stood a better chance of promotion and he was going to be paid at least the same as what Brighton were offering him and probably a bit more.
He joined out of no loyalty or ‘pull’ to Norfolk at all. He’s a footballer who’s following the money and getting the best move he can. As a footballer, he has a talent, an ability that most of us don’t have and as a result he can earn a huge salary while most of us are having to watch what we spend and on what.
The move to Huddersfield is hardly a glamorous one but what it does do is provide a platform in the Premier League. If he cuts the mustard there and makes a name for himself, then his future is assured – even if the Terriers are relegated.
If Huddersfield went down then they would have two years of parachute payments so the sale of Pritchard wouldn’t be desperate. They’d try to keep their squad together and have a shot at an immediate return.
If in the meantime, Pritchard’s stock has risen because of the next six months in the PL and making the likes of Eric Bailly and John Stones look a bit wobbly, then the chances are he’ll get another move anyway – for even more money.
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Those players I mentioned at the start are in the same boat (sort of) as Pritchard. Norwich would like to keep them but can’t afford to. Never mind all the ‘there’s no pressure to sell’ stuff from the Head Coach – Stuart Webber and Steve Stone will take each offer as it presents itself and sell if they think it’s worth it.
I personally think that £11m is too cheap for Pritchard and that a fee of closer to £15m is nearer his true value. Perhaps Ross Barkley’s £15m transfer last week muddied the waters but he did only have six months left on his contract with Everton at the time.
There are other players on a fortune a week that we would all like to see move on, like Steven Naismith, who is rumoured to be the club’s highest paid player, Russell Martin, who no longer plays and Matt ‘Glass Man’ Jarvis. I actually saw a video posted by James Maddison on his Instagram yesterday in which Jarvis was in training kit in the dressing room – no, really.
It looks to me as though the club want Naismith and Martin to go out on loan/be sold in this window, purely down to the large amount of speculation around them and a desire to get them off the wage bill. Jarvis isn’t going anywhere, because of those who could afford him, who would take a punt with that injury record? I think I’m right in saying he has eighteen months left on his contract.
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I recently spoke with a club employee, who told me that the average wage at Norwich is now £30k per week. Yes, that’s the average wage.
That isn’t sustainable in our league without a wealthy owner and we don’t have one.
Remember when we took Hull City’s best player, Robbie Brady because he wanted to play in the Premier League and they couldn’t withstand a £7m offer (eventually) from little old Norwich?
What’s happening with Pritchard is exactly the same thing – it’s the circle of football life.
So get used to these type of sales because it’s going to become the norm. We can only hope that the players that replace them are more of the Tom Trybull standard than the Marcel Franke type.