Norwich City transfer update: Alex Neil on Sebastian Haller deal talk, Ben Godfrey move and the latest on Gary Hooper’s future
- Credit: PA
Alex Neil has played down fevered speculation Norwich City are close to sealing a deal for FC Utrecht striker Sebastien Haller.
Haller's representative, Loïc Gustan, confirmed to French media on Friday morning they had visited City's training complex on Thursday but a deal is unlikely with the player keen to join another club playing in European competition.
Neil had a curt response when questioned at Colney regarding reports of a £6.5m move for the French Under-21 international.
'Who is saying he is going to sign today? People seem to know more than us, then,' he said, with Cameron Jerome, Dieumerci Mbokani and Kyle Lafferty Neil's current striking options after Lewis Grabban's exit. 'Obviously we have money from Lewis' sale we aim to re-invest. We have a host of targets we are trying to attract to the club. It is difficult to say how many. With the style we have adopted recently three strikers is more than enough cover to play that way right now. Certainly if one of those three were to leave we would have to add another striker to the books. I don't think there are any questions about that.'
Gustan, speaking to the Daily Mercato, said: 'We have indeed visited Norwich's training ground yesterday, and Utrecht's representatives have a good relationship with those at Norwich. But Sébastien is unlikely to join Norwich. We are targeting a club which plays in Europe. If a club that is playing European football offers us something and they reach an agreement with Utrecht, then a departure this winter is possible.'
Neil did confirm City are in advanced discussions to complete the signing of York's highly-rated teenage midfielder Ben Godfrey in a deal that could reportedly rise to £1m.
'There has been contact, we've made an approach and it's an advanced stage and we hope to get that across the line soon,' he said. 'He is only 17, 18. He has played first team football for York and that in itself suggests his development is progressing really quickly. He is a man. His Dad played Rugby League so he is built like a man, he a good athlete and we hope in the future he can blossom.
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'He is not one for the first team at the moment. It would be a project to introduce him into the development squad and gradually work him into the first team. We are trying to get Godfrey across the line, Ivo Pinto has come in and we managed to secure Matt Jarvis on a permanent so we intend to do more business between now and the end of the window.'
Neil made it clear there are no further updates in his pursuit of Everton's Steven Naismith or interest in Northern Ireland striker Lafferty. The City boss also revealed talks over extending Gary Hooper's Sheffield Wednesday stay are still at an exploratory stage. The striker's current Hillsborough loan deal expires after this weekend's latest round of Championship fixtures, but the Owls have made it clear they want to keep Hooper.
'There is nothing happening in that direction at the moment, in terms of a permanent deal,' said Neil. 'We have spoken to Sheffield Wednesday but there doesn't seem to be any agreement in place, be it an extended loan or a permanent deal. As far as I am aware they can do another loan. I don't think there have been any extensive negotiations or anything in the pipeline right now. At this present moment he is coming back as it stands.
'Kyle's situation has not changed. He is a member of the squad. If someone is interested then come and make an offer for him.'
Neil has no fresh injury concerns for the Premier League trip to Bournemouth, but the Scot will not include Pinto in his matchday squad.
'He has come off a mid-season break, a different football culture and he has not trained a full week with the squad. I don't think it would be fair on him to throw him in the deep end,' he said. 'The lads in that position are performing well at the minute.'
Neil made it clear this morning the Canaries had done all they can to try and recruit Naismith, after meeting Everton's asking price, and the Liverpool Echo claim Roberto Martinez is now leaving the final decision up to the Scottish international after dismissing reports on Friday at his pre-match press call Swansea City had joined the race.
'There has been no approach (from Swansea). There has been another Premier League club that has made a lot of progress in that respect. Everything is more or less agreed in terms of a possible transfer,' he said. 'But the situation with Steven Naismith is that he has a knock on his ankle, and that's why he hasn't been involved (lately).
'At the moment, the priority is to see Steven fully fit and available and then probably we will have a sitdown and decide the next step. (Is it Steven's decision?) It is up to a point, but it has to be right for everyone. We are open to the Steven Naismith situation because in the last days of the previous window it's an open secret Steven wanted to know about is future, and at that time we couldn't replace him and it wasn't right to do that.
'That's been there since day one on January 1. It's never been a question of welcoming approaches and offers, it's making sure we sit down with the player and he's clear with the next step of his career.
'The promise was we would review it in the next window and see how he is. Steven is in a position where he hasn't played as much as he would have liked as a senior player. It's only fair and honest that we review the situation and then a decision is made. It's very much in the player's hands to be able to make the right call.'