Paddy Davitt: Operation Timm Klose is Norwich City’s top priority
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Chief Norwich City writer Paddy Davitt assesses the chances of holding onto Timm Klose, in the latest part of a summer series.
Keeping Timm Klose would top any transfer business Norwich City embark on this summer.
Few Carrow Road signings, certainly in modern times, can have made such a deep impression in such an abbreviated passage of time.
Klose played 10 games for the Canaries last season and the measure of his impact was such that a season-ending tumble at Selhurst Park produced almost an audible intake of breath from the travelling fans at Crystal Palace.
Confirmation the Swiss international had indeed suffered knee ligament damage felt like a terminal blow that sadly proved prophetic when Norwich were unable to rouse themselves in his absence.
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Klose swept into the club in January with a high class pedigree, honed at Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga, which sparked justifiable questions as to just how Norwich had engineered such a coup.
The City credentials of the 28-year-old's representative, Gaetano Giallanza, undoubtedly eased the negotiation process but Klose clearly felt a connection with the Canaries that convinced him to swap the Champions League knock-out stages for a Premier League relegation tussle. One can only hope those ties have strengthened in the interim.
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Klose was feted on the terraces as a cult figure for the brash swagger he exuded and the quality of his performances after an impressively brief period of acclimatisation to the unique rigours of English football.
There may have been doubts after the way he was exposed as part of a creaking defence at Aston Villa and in the midst of West Ham's second-half surge at Carrow Road, but his displays against high-class opponents such as Chelsea and Manchester City were masterful. The legend grew in that away win at West Brom and by the time he was glancing home Robbie Brady's vicious inswinging free kick in that memorable stoppage time 3-2 victory against Newcastle, Klose had already won hearts and minds.
But that showreel now carries negative undertones with Norwich losing their top flight status and the transfer window about to officially open in a matter of weeks. The centre-back's return to full fitness is one factor but of far greater importance is the level of interest in his services and whether Klose is prepared to give the Championship a crack.
There is no doubt Norwich's promotion prospects would be significantly enhanced from retaining a hugely popular character, inside the changing room, as much as on the terraces. The most striking aspect of his 10-game stretch was less the confirmation of his own ability and more the transformative affect he had on those around him; notably Ryan Bennett, who looked to relish the guidance and direction offered from playing alongside the Swiss.
Alex Neil will not find a better replacement willing to ply their trade in the second tier. Klose may well be bracketed in the same coveted category as Robbie Brady and Nathan Redmond this summer but you suspect he is the one Neil would be desperate to retain. Ultimately this will come down to the player himself.
Klose knows he is genuinely loved in Norfolk. By all accounts, that affection is reciprocated but the career of a professional footballer is a relatively short one and the prospect of top flight suitors, either here or on the continent, with all the attendant financial benefits would be difficult to resist.
It may take all of Neil's persuasive powers to convince the defender to pledge his allegiance, at least for the first stretch, until both parties could review the situation in the January transfer window.