Ken Bates ‘astonished’ at Norwich City’s ‘no brainer’ Jonny Howson offer

Ken Bates claims he was 'astonished' Norwich City offered Leeds United �2m for Jonny Howson – and the decision to accept it was a 'no brainer'.

The Whites captain sealed a three and a half year deal to join the Canaries on Tuesday, for a reported initial fee of �750,000.

The 23-year-old is currently recovering from a knee injury he suffered in December and is pencilled in for a return later next month.

But more pressingly for Leeds, Howson – who turns 24 in May – was set to be out of contract in the summer and could have walked away from Elland Road for free – and for that reason, Bates welcomed City's interest as Paul Lambert completed his first signing of the January transfer window.

'We'd have got nothing for the 14 years that we spent nurturing him, training and bringing him up and promoting him,' Bates told Yorkshire Radio.

'Furthermore, he hurt his leg and fell awkwardly against Millwall and has been out of action ever since and is expected to be back sometime next month or even in March.

'So we were astonished when Norwich came in and offered us (a fee), which after a bit of bartering finished up at about �2m. To take the offer was a no brainer.

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'We'd been working on Jonny for 14 months trying to persuade him to sign a contract and he steadfastly refused to do so, saying he wanted to keep his options open, saying he wanted to play in the Premiership.

'Of course, we can't guarantee promotion, nor can any other club. The question was do we take the money for him now or say no? – and with a bit of luck get six weeks out of him, maybe eight games before he goes for free.

'It was a bit of an idiot situation, where the club captain wouldn't commit himself to the club, but as usual the matter was left to the manager to make the final decision; he consulted his backroom staff and they said take the money, so we did.'

Bates has had to deal with angry United fans questioning the club's ambition following the departure of Howson, who is the youngest player to captain Leeds since Billy Bremner.

Closer to home, City boss Paul Lambert has until 11pm Tuesday to complete any further Premier League ins and outs before the second and final transfer window – for both loans and permanent signings – closes.

The City boss has indicated a temporary signing could be on his radar before deadline day – something freed up by Ritchie de Laet's early return to Manchester United.

The Premier League allows four domestic loan deals per season, but only two simultaneously – and those are not allowed to be from the same parent club.

All Premier League loans must run from one transfer window to another.

Tottenham defender Kyle Naughton is currently the sole loanee in Lambert's squad, and is due to stay at Carrow Road until May.