An eye on the future, impressive business and questions remaining: Norwich City's transfer window unpacked
(Photo by Stephen Pond/Getty Images)

It seems so long ago now, but it was only back in July that Norwich City Sporting Director Stuart Webber said in an interview that, for the first time since his arrival in 2017, the club had "all of the weapons" when it came to transfers. 

After a distinct lack of quality was ruthlessly exposed in the Premier League last season, the past transfer window has been one of the busiest in recent memory in Norfolk. A host of players have been brought in with the aim of returning the club to the top-flight, with a limited number of permanent, but financially impressive, outgoings.

But whilst early-season form is rarely a reliable measure of the success of a club's recruitment, questions still need to be answered about the chemistry of the new-look Norwich squad, and areas where - despite apparent need - the Canaries still seem thin on the ground. 

The incomings

One of Norwich's biggest issues last season was their over-reliance on Teemu Pukki, the Finn scoring 11 of City's mere 26 league goals. The need to improve attacking depth was clear to see. 

Buoyed by a freedom given to him by Webber which he has not always enjoyed, manager Daniel Farke has moved quickly to build a squad he feels is strong enough to get the Canaries back to the top-flight on a long-term basis. Jordan Hugill was brought in from West Ham United, and scored his first goal in a last-gasp victory over Rotherham United last weekend, in an acquisition that offers both strength and goals, at this level at least.

The signing of Kieran Dowell from Everton and Przemyslaw Placheta from Slask Wroclaw also seem like shrewd acquisitions. Dowell scored on his competitive debut, albeit in a 1-3 EFL Cup defeat to Luton Town, and his experience in the Championship was evident before he limped off against Preston North End last month. His three-month lay-off will doubtlessly have thrown a spanner in the works for Farke's visions of a new-look squad, but his ability is promising nonetheless.

Placheta, who replaced Dowell against Preston and went on to score a late equaliser, has frightening pace and can put wicked deliveries into the penalty area. Aged just 22, securing his signature for a reported fee of around £2 million - one of Norwich's most expensive arrivals this summer - seems like a good investment in the future.

Hugill, Dowell and Placheta, as well as Adam Idah, who has rapidly emerged as a first-team regular with Josh Martin in reserve, all give Norwich much greater firepower than in seasons gone by. 

As well as improving their attacking arsenal, the club have been quick to shore up their defences. Norwich shipped 75 goals in 38 league games last season - 1.97 per game on average - and even long-term injuries to centre-backs Timm Klose, Grant Hanley and Christoph Zimmermann could not excuse the leakiness of Norwich's backline. 

Loan deals for defensive midfielder Oliver Skipp from Tottenham Hotspur, young Villarreal full-back Xavi Quintilla and Burnley centre-back Ben Gibson have all looked to be smart deals. Skipp has looked assured in front of the backline; his opening day debut at Huddersfield Town saw him complete 93% of his passes and win 14 duels. Quintilla meanwhile, already with a wealth of La Liga experience at the tender age of 23, has impressed thus far and slotted seamlessly into the space left by Jamal Lewis in the Norwich backline. 

Gibson has also looked assured, even if his debut ended in a 0-1 home defeat to Derby County. It is a deal that assures him regular first-team football and, according to reports in The Athletic, gives Norwich a solid defender for £8 million if the club is promoted. He may well be the common denominator if Hanley and Zimmermann are blighted by injuries again this campaign. 

These incomings can give Norwich fans a lot of hope. Many of them have already begun to prove their worth, whilst adhering to Farke's possession-based brand of football which saw Norwich romp to the Championship title two seasons ago. Early results, including two defeats in the first five games, have shown the difficulties of making so many new faces gel together quickly. Make no mistake, however, about the quality in this new squad. 

The outgoings

Norwich entered the transfer window confident that if players were to leave, it would not be on the cheap. The transfers that have transpired as a result of that standpoint, as well as commanding impressive fees for a club of Norwich's relatively small financial might, vindicate the club's long-term approach. 

Ben Godfrey was the subject of transfer speculation all summer, and it was little surprise that he did eventually leave. Webber clearly was not joking when he said players would leave on the club's terms, with Godfrey joining Everton for a record-breaking fee, rumoured to be around £25 million. The move for Gibson only days earlier indicates Godfrey's departure was expected, and his Toffees' debut in the Merseyside derby last weekend showed that he may well come to justify his price tag. Good luck to him. 

Lewis also left for big money, with him and Max Aarons both silver linings of an otherwise poor season. Whilst FC Barcelona did not put their money where their mouth was in their pursuit of Aarons, Newcastle United's £15m fee for Lewis was good business

Crucially, these two transfers alone show how Norwich's plan under Webber and Farke has worked. Norwich fans may have been disappointed to see two bright lights depart, but truthfully it was near-inevitable. The money received is more than most City fans will have ever seen associated with the club and puts it in a far more financially-stable state than Webber found it in when he first arrived. 

Two players, who joined for around £300,000 combined, have brought in £40m - some profit. The club have ploughed money into their academy; added to the transfer of James Maddison to Leicester City for around £20m in 2018, this summer's departures are further justification of this business strategy. 

Further incomings this year suggest this philosophy is still very much at the heart of the club's future. 19-year old Bali Mumba, Luxembourg striker Daniel Sinani, USA U20 striker Sebastian Soto and Danish midfielder Jacob Sorenson are all under 23 years of age and cost a combined £1m. Soto and Sinani have been sent to the Netherlands and Belgium respectively on loan and are scoring goals. If they can keep it up, they may well be the next episodes of the "buy young, sell big" series. 

The questions

The past window has given those in yellow and green much to be excited about. But seemingly as with every year, there have been a couple of raised eyebrows along the way, and questions still to be answered. 

The departures of Klose and midfielder Tom Trybull were both to be expected, despite their popularity amongst fans. But when Klose joined boyhood club, FC Basel, on a season-long loan, no replacement was brought in. It seemed strange, therefore, when Farke admitted that the departures had left the club "light". Why let a player go if you know it would leave you thin, especially in an area which you know needs improving? 

Trybull had been told he could find another club, despite holding the record of City's most accurate passer last season and his heavy involvement in the promotion-winning campaign in 2018-19. Yet to let him go on loan to Blackburn Rovers, a rival Championship club, fuelled some criticism. It is a strange decision to say the least, but one that indicates Trybull's time in Norfolk is over regardless. Whether this will come back to haunt Norwich remains to be seen.

Questions also remain over two players that have not gone anywhere. Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia - both fan favourites - were the subjects of intense transfer speculation towards the end of the window. But despite the club being willing to listen to offers, Leeds United's reported interest was not enough to draw either player away from Carrow Road

However, the mere interest has seemingly been enough of a distraction, which presents another hurdle to Farke's task of mixing new signings with the core of last season's squad. Speaking in a press conference, Farke revealed both have been dropped from matchday squads as he only picks players who are "fully focused, fully switched on and full of desire to wear the yellow shirt." Their past performances seemingly count for little in the cut and thrust of the second tier.

But whilst the pair remain at the club, Farke should not turn their talent away. Norwich, after all, no longer need to sell players, and both are on long-term contracts. Buendia featured heavily in the win at Rotherham, winning the 95th-minute penalty which won his side all three points. Cantwell - the 'Dereham Deco' - remains out, reportedly with a knock. Norwich fans will hope to see them brought back into the fold, even if only until January. If the pair do still want to fly the nest come 2021, they may have to grin and bear it on the pitch for a little while longer.

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