England enjoyed a lengthy World Cup run this summer, but to the surprise of most, Germany’s time in the tournament was cut mercilessly short. This seemed to free many of Norwich City’s authority figures from all distractions, allowing them to complete some important summer business. Three first team players have left the club, and five new signings have taken their place. Here’s a introduction to each of the new Canaries, with an assessment of their credentials.
If rumours are to be believed, a replacement for Angus Gunn hasn’t yet been sought. But a new defender has walked through the Carrow Road doors: Borussia Dortmund’s 20-year-old full back Felix Passlack, arriving on loan for the season. Aged just 17, Passlack had burst into the Dortmund first team and captained Germany at youth level. As such, many expect him to eventually fill the boots of Philipp Lahm: against tough opposition, he has already exhibited the darting runs, strong physicality and composure on the ball for which Lahm was celebrated. He arrives at Norwich on the back of a frustrating last season at TSG Hoffenheim, whose high-flying first-team performed too consistently to allow him a regular spot. He now has the chance to remind both English and German fans why he was so highly rated.
City’s right-side has been reinforced further by the signing of 27-year-old winger Ben Marshall from Wolverhampton Wanderers. Marshall is an experienced Championship midfielder: he has made around 220 league appearances since 2012, scoring 22 goals for the likes of Leicester City, Blackburn Rovers and Millwall. He registered 6 assists in his half-season loan to Millwall, proving himself to be an accomplished crosser and passer of the ball. That being said, City fans are likely to be concerned about why he played such little role in Wolves’ recent title challenge (and why they were willing to sell him following promotion), but a quick scroll through Twitter paints Marshall as a victim of circumstance. It was Wolves’ cash-splashing on Portuguese starlets Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa that condemned Marshall to the fringes of their squad, rather than poor performances or attitude. So, it seems we should expect Marshall to be hungry to make a real impact for City.
Norwich’s attacking midfield will also boast an exotic name next season; that of 21-year-old Emi Buendia. Buendia has played for Spain and Argentina at youth level, showcasing the pace and flair expected from Latin American attackers. He came through the youth system at Getafe to make 35 first-team appearances in La Liga, before an untimely relegation led to his first move away – on loan to Spanish Second Division side Cultural Leonesa, where his 7 goals and 11 assists earnt him the club’s player of the season award. As a young attacker with an eye for goal, heads began to turn in his direction: rumours suggest that City beat fellow Championship rivals Swansea City and Leeds United to his signature, indicating a suitability to Championship football. But Sergi Canos does come to mind: a player with the same nationality, position and promise given very little first-team action in yellow and green. So, let’s hope this isn’t the last we hear of Emi Buendia!
Now to the top of the pitch; the area that most needed strengthening. The first of two new strikers making Carrow Road their home is Teemu Pukki, a 28-year-old Finnish international with playing experience from La Liga to the Scottish Premier League. Notably, Pukki moved from Schalke 04 to Celtic in 2013 as a replacement for ex-Norwich striker Gary Hooper, but struggled to fill his prolific boots. Personal problems marred Pukki’s stay in Scotland, and 7 goals in 26 games later, he moved to Danish side Brondby IF. Pukki bounced back to find goalscoring feet in Denmark, capitalising on Brondby’s aggressive playing style to score 55 goals in 130 games. Having proven his worth as a goal scorer and demonstrated his resilience, Pukki has arrived at Carrow Road hoping to extend his good form to the Championship. Time will tell whether Pukki will cope with Championship defences better than those in the SPL – it may take an experienced partner to help him do so.
This brings us to the final member of the new Canary quintet, and one that needs little introduction: Jordan Rhodes, signed on loan from Sheffield Wednesday for the season. Statistically, Rhodes is one of the most proven Championship strikers available. His most prolific spells came between 2009 and 2016, representing Huddersfield Town and Blackburn Rovers - he scored over 150 goals in around 300 matches. But since 2016, things haven’t gone quite so smoothly for Rhodes. Recent fan opinion of Rhodes suggests his talents have been wasted at Middlesbrough and Sheffield Wednesday, as his managers have refused to shape their team around Rhodes’ favoured playing style, instead leaving him isolated up front. His limited recently goal tally of 14 in 70 matches after 2016 reflects this frustration. Rhodes’ move to Norwich City offers an opportunity for Rhodes to return to goal scoring ways, providing he can adjust to Daniel Farke’s stubbornly patient attacking style.
So, these are the five players hoping to bolster Norwich City’s promotion credentials for next season. Daniel Farke has revealed there may be scope for one or two more additions to the squad, but arguably, the biggest gaps in quality in last season’s first team have now been plugged. It is difficult to determine how any of them will perform in the Championship; all we can hope is that each knows their worth and fulfils their potential in front of the Carrow Road faithful.