Norwich City transfer rumours: Inevitable Villa links continue
- Credit: PA
It hasn’t taken long for the inevitable transfer rumours linking Norwich City with fringe players at Aston Villa to arrive.
Football Insider have linked experienced midfielder Conor Hourihane and young striker Keinan Davis since Dean Smith arrived at Norwich just eight days after being dismissed by Villa.
Republic of Ireland international Hourihane isn’t even on the fringes at Villa but at loan club Sheffield United, starting just three of his 14 Championship appearances so far this season.
The 30-year-old played the final 18 minutes of a 1-0 win at Reading for the Blades last night and joined on a season-long loan that will take him through to the end of his Villa contract next summer.
Loan deals can be broken during the January transfer window if all parties agree though and Football Insider claim a recruitment source has told them Hourihane is a target for Smith.
Having made just five appearances for Villa during the first half of last season, the classy midfielder joined Swansea and scored five goals in 22 Championship games to help take the Swans to the play-off final, where they were beaten 2-0 by Brentford.
Previously he had proven a Championship threat for Villa after signing from Barnsley for around £3million in January 2017, scoring 20 goals in 107 games in the second tier and playing an influential role as Smith arrived during 2018-19 and inspired play-off success.
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His influence waned in the Premier League as big-money signings arrived though, with a respectable four goals and six assists from 31 appearances.
Davis, 23, is a Villa youth product who has only scored six goals in 86 matches for the West Midlands club – although only 28 of those have been starts and only four in the top flight.
The big forward is under contract until 2024 but has only recently returned from a knee problem that disrupted his start to the season, claiming a goal and an assist as the Villa U21s beat MK Dons 4-2 in the EFL Trophy.
He also played the final 11 minutes of Smith’s final match in charge, a 1-0 Premier League defeat at Southampton, but was left on the bench by new boss Steven Gerrard during a 2-0 home win over Brighton on Saturday.
Born and raised in Stevenage, Davis made his Villa debut at 18 but hasn’t had any loan experience and has rarely enjoyed a run of consistent game-time. Football Insider claim a fee of between £2m and £4m could seal a deal.
Both players have shown what they can do against Norwich in the Championship in the past, with one game in particular. Davis set up Hourihane for the first goal of a hat-trick as the Villans won 4-2 at Villa Park – but that was over four years ago in the Championship, in August 2017.
Hourihane did provide a more recent reminder against City though, in February, when he fired in a fine strike from 20 yards as Swansea beat the eventual champions 2-0 in South Wales.
Smith hasn't even had a full week to work with the Canaries squad yet, having taken his first training session last Thursday.
The new head coach and sporting director Stuart Webber spoke last week about January and emphasised that the only focus in the short term is on getting the most from the current squad after a busy summer transfer window.
After Saturday’s 2-1 home win over Southampton cut the gap to safety to three points, City have another nine Premier League matches until January signings can join the squad.
Having spent around £60m on singing 11 players this summer, with the potential for around £20m further from those deals, it seems likely that a big-money sale would be needed to fund serious business.
It is understood that funds could be made available if needed though, with the money spent balanced by the club-record sale of Emi Buendia, worth an initial £33m as part of an overall £38m deal.
Hourihane has a classy left foot and a set-piece threat but turns 31 in February and hasn’t proved particularly successful in the Premier League, so would seem an unlikely target.
The Canaries already have Mathias Normann, Kenny McLean, Chelsea loanee Billy Gilmour, Pierre Lees-Melou, Lukas Rupp and Jacob Sorensen as central midfield options, with Rupp in the final year of his contract.
Smith could well look to make some tweaks to his squad but a loan would only be possible if Gilmour or Manchester United full-back Brandon Williams returned to their parent clubs, as only two loans from fellow Premier League clubs are allowed.
That could rule out Davis as well unless Villa are willing to accept a cut-price deal.
While City have Teemu Pukki as their first-choice striker, with four goals this season, summer signing Josh Sargent has struggled to offer a goal threat but has shown his tenacity and work rate can be a team asset.
Ireland international Adam Idah has been on the fringes and is yet to score this season. With a contract until 2024, the 20-year-old could well benefit from a loan spell and regular game-time.