Paddy Davitt: Savour Angus Gunn while you can
Angus Gunn and James Maddison have more in common than just Norwich City and the England Under-21s.
Both fit the criteria of a self-fulfilling prophesy Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke have alluded to at various stages this season.
City’s football figureheads should be applauded for the foresight to recruit Gunn from Manchester City, on a season-long loan, and the faith in Maddison to give him a starring role in the heart of the Canaries’ midfield.
But there is a nasty by-product to allowing two genuinely exciting young talents to flourish in Norwich colours.
Given Farke and Webber must plan for another season in the second tier, everything points to a growing sense Gunn and Maddison are entering the final phase of their Carrow Road journeys.
The duo have proven beyond any lingering doubt they are too good for the Championship.
Webber and, more recently Farke, have both referenced the point with particular regard to Maddison and the endless swirl of speculation around his next port of call.
That end game when the midfielder’s accelerated development reaches a point where he has moved ahead of City’s own curve.
In less prosaic terms, the moment when the 21-year-old out-grows his current club and must depart to continue the meteoric rise.
Gunn may belong to the Premier League champions-elect but the same principle applies.
You can already see the disturbance ahead of this summer’s window actually opening for business.
His superbly consistent displays as Norwich’s number one have seen him linked with the likes of Stoke and Celtic next season, if Pep Guardiola decides the 22-year-old must continue his education away from his parent club once again.
The newspaper links to Paul Lambert’s and Brendan Rodgers’ clubs respectively may be little more than speculation at this stage, but there is no doubt Premier League entities who harbour less vaunted ambitions than the elite would covet one of England’s finest prospects.
Celtic, for that matter, have form for plucking former Norwich City custodians from the Football League and giving them a platform to build their profile and maximise their exposure.
Fraser Forster’s stint in Glasgow parachuted him into the Premier League and for a brief period the England squad.
Gunn’s trajectory is no less impressive than Maddison’s over recent months, without the headlines or the attendant fuss perhaps.
That reflects his unflappable character, the maturity beyond his years, and the calmness which evokes memories for those older Norwich supporters of his father.
The statistics are remarkable.
To think this was a keeper who had not played a minute of professional football before returning to a club he holds dear.
Gunn emerged from a rocky early season spell operating behind a fragile Norwich backline to keep 15 clean sheets. At one stage he was part of a watertight defence that set a new club record of five consecutive league shutouts.
Such under-stated reliability has been peppered with some wonderful shot-stopping on occasion.
That flying leap to foil Josh Brownhill from close range in the battling 1-0 Championship win at Bristol City was breathtaking; but it is also the type of moment that ripples around the game and alerts any who were unaware to a rising talent.
Norwich have been good for Gunn, and the young keeper with the deep affinity to Norfolk has been good for the Canaries.
The same applies to Maddison. But a parting of the ways looks inevitable.
Guardiola is ultimately the king maker in what the immediate future holds for his talented keeper.
It is hard to construct a dispassionate argument to convince the Spaniard another tour of duty in the Championship is preferable to either the Premier League or a spell in Glasgow.
If it was down to the youngster or Farke and Webber you sense a settlement could be reached to repeat a hugely successful experiment, but Guardiola holds the casting vote.
Webber is a meticulous operator who will have contingency plans in place.
To draw a parallel with Forster - when he headed through the exit - John Ruddy came in the opposite direction.
When one story reaches a sad conclusion, the page must be turned and a new chapter penned.
But Gunn will be big gloves to fill at Carrow Road.
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