Man City the ultimate Premier League test for Cantwell
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Todd Cantwell is not daunted by the prospect of mixing it with the Premier League elite again next season.
The 23-year-old is back in the big time after a leading role in another Championship title win for Daniel Farke's squad.
Cantwell looked comfortable on the grandest stage, despite Norwich City’s previous failed attempt at Premier League survival.
None more so than a goalscoring display in a thrilling 3-2 Carrow Road top flight win against Manchester City in September 2019 that reverberated around planet football.
“We put in an incredible performance and maybe they were slightly off it on the day from their usual level,” said Cantwell. “I remember we fielded some reserve players.
"We had a central midfielder at centre back and I will be honest before that game we were not looking forward to it as much as we should have been.
"Everyone knows what Manchester City are like if they turn up and are on it. They are a superb team. Every position covered. Some of the quick one two passing, the speed of thought with those guys. They always look like they are on the same channel.
“I remember the away game, which wasn’t so successful, and Kevin de Bruyne. It was like a Fifa game, where he had put the difficulty to easy. That is the best way I can describe it.
"He was doing exactly what he wanted to do and when a player has those tools and is on it then I am not sure there is anything you can do to stop him.”
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The Belgian has had to share top billing with Phil Foden for the Citizens this season as they romp to another top flight crown under Pep Guardiola. Cantwell’s former England Under-21s' team mate has grabbed his chance to play a leading role for club and country.
“He is a fantastic footballer. That goes without saying. But he is a brilliant person. Very down to earth and he loves his football,” said the Norwich midfielder, speaking to Talksport. “You can tell that from brief encounters with him. He is learning from the very best around him and you can see that in the little bits and pieces he adds to his game.
"He is doing what he wants to do at the minute and I am happy to see it.
“I can’t speak on his behalf or what it is like to be at Manchester City but I can imagine being around people like David Silva or Bernardo Silva, people of that calibre, and you understand the need to be patient.
"They are fantastic footballers to compete with but you could argue now he is on that level or even above them.
“He looks confident, fluid and his statistics are there. He looks undroppable. We have some fantastic young footballers in this country.
"I remember turning up for one England Under-21 squad and it was incredible. You look forward to playing with these players, and in a lot of cases I am older than them. That is strange, but I enjoy playing with good footballers.”
Jude Bellingham is another hot English prospect turning heads at Borussia Dortmund, and also on course to join Foden in Gareth Southgate’s squad for the Euros.
“I remember training with Jude Bellingham (for England’s Under-21s) and thinking it is absolutely impossible you are only 17,” said Cantwell. “He was playing like he had been at it for 20 years and his ability is impeccable.
"We played in a game in Austria together and I am in front of him and he is telling me where to go on the pitch but I have nothing but respect for people who have the right things to say on the pitch. He is a winner.
“This season at Norwich I have had Oliver Skipp doing a similar role. To have those calm, confident lads on the ball who can show that grit and heart is an unstoppable combination.”