Rumour mill: Norwich City agree ‘deal in principle’ to sign Steven Naismith from Everton

Scotland international Steven Naismith has it all for Norwich City boss Alex Neil. Picture: PA

Scotland international Steven Naismith has it all for Norwich City boss Alex Neil. Picture: PA - Credit: PA

Alex Neil's patient pursuit of Steven Naismith appears to be drawing to a happy conclusion.

The Guardian claims Norwich City have agreed a deal in principle to sign the Everton midfielder for £8million once the latest transfer window opens on January 2.

But the Canaries still face stiff competition from a host of clubs – including Premier League relegation rivals Sunderland, Swansea City, Aston Villa and Newcastle United – to gain the attacking midfielder's signature.

The Scotland international is said to be keen on securing a move away from Goodison Park after only starting four top-flight games this season. And although the Toffees turned down a bid from Norwich in the summer, thought to be worth £7m, Naismith's manager Roberto Martinez is now thought to be less desperate about keeping hold of the 29-year-old.

Speaking earlier this month the Everton boss, who only used the Scot for 25 minutes during yesterday's 4-3 defeat at home to Stoke, said: 'That's something (Naismith's future) we need to look into whenever that situation arises. It happened in August, it wasn't the right time. We're going to see how the next three or four weeks go.

'It's so important to have a strong squad. We've got a period of a lot of games in a short amount of days and every single player will have a very important role in those weeks.

'So I'm sure in four or five weeks we'll have a clear idea of where we are and it'll be the right time to make a decision.'

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Naismith memorably scored a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Chelsea earlier this season but has not started a game since the 3-0 home defeat to Manchester United on October 17.

The Scot further fuelled the speculation about his departure from Merseyside when he said: 'When Norwich were interested in me in the summer, it was the manager who said he didn't want it to happen. But as a player you need to think about all your options.

'The manager said we'd speak about it again come January time so we'll do that. At the moment I'm just concentrating on playing my football as part of a great squad and hopefully if I get my chance to play again, I take it.

'But you've got to weigh up all your options and see where you're at.'

City boss Neil has made no secret of his desire to strengthen in the forthcoming window after missing out on several key targets before the campaign got under way in August.

Norwich have already agreed the permanent signing of loan winger Matt Jarvis from West Ham for £2.5m and are keen to strengthen their squad as they look to move away from the drop zone.