Claim that City are signing Bosnia midfielder is wide of the mark
- Credit: PA
An overnight report that Bosnia & Herzegovina international Stjepan Loncar is close to agreeing a deal to join Norwich City is believed to be inaccurate.
The 24-year-old midfielder was linked with the Canaries by media outlets in Italy and Bosnia almost a month ago, after a strong season for Croatian side Rijeka.
At the time it was claimed by Italian outlet Tutto Mercato Web that Serie A side Verona and ambitious Serie B club Monza were among City's rivals for Loncar, however, Monza have since missed out on promotion in the play-offs.
Bosnian websites SportSport swiftly followed up and claimed there was also interest from Spain, with a summer exit expected.
Loncar has two years remaining on his contract, with the central midfielder becoming an important player for Rijeka since joining from Bosnian side Siroki Brijeg in 2018, winning two Croatian Cups.
He scored three goals and assisted six during 42 appearances this season, starting all six Europa League group stage games, scoring during a 2-2 draw away to Real Sociedad and teeing up the winner during a 2-1 home victory over AZ Alkmaar.
Last night it was SportSport again reporting on Loncar's future, claiming he is set to sign for Norwich this month, aided by his country having not qualified for the Euros - after a penalty shootout loss to Northern Ireland in the play-offs in October.
They claimed a deal worth around £2.5million was close, reporting that it would provide a significant financial windfall for his former club Siroki Brijeg thanks to a sell-on fee.
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It's believed the midfielder could qualify for the work permit criteria introduced by the FA since Brexit, despite playing for a country ranked just outside Fifa's top 50 - thanks to being a regular starter in the league and the Europa League, with Rijeka finishing third to qualify for the new Europa Conference League.
Loncar reportedly dropped out of the Bosnia & Herzegovina squad this month due to an injury issue, ahead of friendlies against Montenegro and Denmark, denying him the chance to add to his nine caps.
VERDICT: Central midfield is clearly an area the Canaries need to strengthen, with Oliver Skipp returning to Tottenham since the Championship title was sealed and the experience of Alex Tettey and Mario Vrancic being let go.
That leaves Kenny McLean, Lukas Rupp and Jacob Sorensen as the recognised senior options but City yesterday sealed the club-record sale of star player Emi Buendia to Aston Villa for an initial £33m, which will allow for transfer work to kick-off.
Loncar appears to have reached the stage of his career where he is ready for a big move to a higher-profile league, with international and European experience making him a viable option. However, it's understood the Canaries are not pursuing his signature.
City are expected to start their summer business with the signing of goalkeeper Angus Gunn from Southampton and young prospect Flynn Clarke from Peterborough, although the 18-year-old would be an addition to the U23 squad initially.
Other central midfielders linked in recent months have included one of Loncar's Bosnia teammates, Rade Krunic of AC Milan, as well as Robert Andrich of Union Berlin and Lewis O'Brien of Huddersfield.