Pinto facing battle for his Canaries future after loan signing
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With the arrival of a new right-back it was inevitable that questions about Ivo Pinto's future would follow. David Freezer assesses the City captain's options.
Amid the excitement about Felix Passlack’s loan arrival from Borussia Dortmund, speculation about Ivo Pinto’s future with City has increased rapidly. Perhaps the writing has been on the wall for a while for the 28-year-old though?
The Portuguese right-back took over as Canaries captain as Russell Martin fell away from first-team contention last season. As one of the most likeable players in the squad, Pinto was an easy choice for Daniel Farke.
However, for a fair chunk of the second half of last season the former Dinamo Zagreb full-back found himself playing second fiddle to Southampton loanee Harrison Reed, who was primarily a midfielder.
Pinto hurt one of his knees when climbing out of his car in January, bringing an end to 24 consecutive league starts. With no obvious replacement at right-back it was Reed who was called into action, getting stuck into the opportunity with his trademark tenacity in a 1-0 win at Brentford, having struggled to establish himself in midfield.
Another six games followed with the Saints loanee starting, even with Pinto back on the bench and fit again, before injuries required Reed to return to the centre of the park.
It looked like Pinto was back in favour but by the end of the season he was on the bench again, with brief substitute appearances followed by playing most of the nightmare final day 5-1 loss at Sheffield Wednesday after James Maddison had limped off.
With a year remaining on his contract, the former Porto trainee’s future was already looking uncertain, so although Reed has returned to his parent club, Pinto now has a new rival.
Germany U21 international Passlack seems unlikely to have joined from Dortmund without assurances he would get plenty of game time, while City academy product Max Aarons extended his contract until 2021 recently.
Add into that mix that winger Ben Marshall can play as a right wing-back and it’s clear that Pinto has a fight on his hands to remain a regular for City.
The January 2016 signing is unlikely to be a disruptive influence in the dressing room though, so competing with Passlack for the right-back berth with contract talks on the back-burner could still be an option, allowing Aarons to go out and gain experience on loan.
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