How do you solve a problem like Steven Naismith?
That, I imagine, is a question that has gone through the mind of Stuart Webber more than once in the last year.
Naismith is likely to be the highest paid player currently on the Norwich City payroll and with the loss of parachute payments, that large salary is going to be something of a millstone around the club’s neck again next season, unless a solution can be found.
When you add Matt Jarvis, Yanic Wildschut, Ivo Pinto, Russell Martin, Timm Klose and Nelson Oliveira to that payroll, as you can see, there are some big earners that decisions need to be made about.
At least, Timm, Ivo and Nelson have contributed this season, while the others have been pretty expensive luxuries and in Jarvis’ case, of no use whatsoever. To be fair, it’s not Jarvis’ fault and I’ve always thought that if he could get fit again then we’d have a real player on our hands. Sadly, it looks unlikely.
Getting back to Naismith though, his loan spell at Hearts from January onwards will have taken the pressure off a little bit, only a little bit though as we have probably been subsidising his wages. Hearts have one game left of that loan but will have to do without Naismith after he accepted a two-match ban for a nasty lunge on Celtic’s Scott Brown.
That “tackle”, which if you watch the above, can barely be referred to as such, was missed by the officials but dealt with retrospectively by the Scottish FA. We have a saying in my 5-a-side team, where such a tackle is known as “a reducer.”
That ban means that he will miss Hearts’ final game of the season against Kilmarnock, after he signed off by scoring the winner in Wednesday night’s Edinburgh derby. Naismith made it 2-1, with another Canary Reject, Kyle Lafferty, getting the other.
Naismith has 12 months left on his Norwich contract, which has never looked like value for money for the club. He does though, have a certain value to him. He’s got a proven track record at Everton in the Premier League and has a good fitness record too. If the price is right, he would surely have suitors this summer.
The issue though, could come down to whether or not Norwich have fully paid for him yet, or could actually afford to accept a reduced transfer fee to get him off the books.
The player himself has always spoken of a desire to play and if he isn’t in Daniel Farke’s plans, which seems unlikely, you’d assume he isn’t the sort of lad who wants to just pick up a pay check and warm his backside on the bench.
He would probably be prepared to help to get a move away from Norfolk by taking a reduced package somewhere else in order to grease the wheels a bit.
I’ll admit to being excited by the signing of Steven Naismith in January 2016. His exploits at Everton, even if he wasn’t starting every game, made him a formidable player at the time and in his debut game, that crazy 4-5 defeat to Liverpool, he really looked the part as he scored a goal and won a penalty.
After that though, it’s only been in fits and starts that he’s actually looked like the player I thought we’d signed. He should’ve been tearing up the Championship last season but instead, he flattered to deceive and ended up this year back in the SPL.
Oh Steven, what could’ve been eh?