Norwich City complete signing of Peterborough defender Ryan Bennett
Norwich tonight completed a last-gasp transfer window deal for Peterborough's highly-rated England U21 international defender Ryan Bennett.
The centre-back has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal after City agreed an undisclosed fee for the 21-year-old - believed to top United's previous club record �2.5m sale of striker Craig Mackail-Smith – who will be loaned back to the London Road club for a month. Norwich's Premier League rivals Swansea had been in protracted talks, but Posh chairman Darragh MacAnthony revealed City's persistence had helped clinch the deal.
'In fairness to Norwich City, they gave us everything we asked for, including loaning the player back to us for a period of time allowing us to bring in a proper replacement for him,' said the Posh chief, on his official Twitter page. 'The gaffer had the final say on this, this evening and agreed it was too good for the club and the player. I'm sure I'm not popular with our fans tonight, but I always try do what's best for our club.
'I can't go into the fee situation but everyone knows I wouldn't do this for a player with many years left unless it suited all of us. Other clubs came in but none backed their manager like Norwich did, their chief executive didn't mess around when Paul Lambert made Ryan his number one target.'
MacAnthony insisted Bennett's wish to leave London Road had also been a key factor.
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'Bear in mind, the player wanted this to happen. It's to a top 12 Premier side who have acted very professional in their approach today,' he said. 'When a player lets you know 24 hours prior to window that this will change his family's life and acts in correct way, which Ryan has, then I have to then work hard to ensure the club gets best deal possible and appease all involved. To avoid any confusion or disappointment, Ryan will be initially loaned back for one month in order to allow us to bring in his replacement.'
Bennett will join former Leeds midfielder Jonny Howson at Carrow Road, subject to the relevant paperwork being lodged with the football authorities. Lambert had stated earlier in the day he was hopeful of pulling off a late deadline day deal.
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'I'm delighted we have signed Ryan,' he said. 'He's made a bright start to his career at Grimsby and Peterborough, he's an England U21 international and he's got so much potential. He can play, he's got great vision, he's comfortable on the ball, and he's a good age too.
'He'll be staying at Peterborough initially, but will join us in time to be available for the Stoke game, and when he does come in he will provide more competition for places in defence, which is something you want to have right throughout the squad. I'm really pleased the deal has been done.'
The Canaries, meanwhile, also repelled a reported raid from Scottish giants Rangers for skipper Grant Holt. Media speculation from both sides of the border claimed Rangers had followed up their long-standing interest with a firm bid for Holt which was rejected by the Canaries – although neither club officially confirmed the reports.
Holt was reportedly Ally McCoist's prime target to replace Everton-bound Nikica Jelavic, but club chief executive David McNally confirmed earlier today on his Twitter page the 30-year-old striker was not for sale to any club – along with the rest of Paul Lambert's squad. Lambert stated prior to the weekend's FA Cup win at West Brom that there had been no contact from McCoist for his club captain, who took his tally to nine goals this season with the opener in the FA Cup fourth round win over the Baggies.
Lambert had also denied suggestions today centre back Elliott Ward was set for a short term loan move in a bid to step up his match fitness after missing all of the club's campaign to date with a knee problem. The Norwich boss was happy to sanction a loan extension for Tom Adeyemi, who will remain at League One Oldham until March 10.
Chris Martin also extended his deal at Crystal Palace until the end of the season after scoring for the Eagles in last night's 1-1 Championship draw with Brighton. The Norwich boss had revealed this morning the Eagles were keen to extend his stay.
'I think Crystal Palace are trying to keep Chrissie, so we'll see what happens, and Tom is more than happy to stay with Oldham so I am quite happy with that to happen,' he said. 'I'll be glad when it's finished like everybody else because it takes up most of your month. There are so many things with inflation but as I said before I won't bring in lads who can't play in the first team.'