Why are City being linked with Paderborn's captain?

(L-R) Sebastian Schonlau of Paderborn, Teemu Pukki of Norwich City during the Friendly match at Bent

Norwich striker Teemu Pukki puts Paderborn defender Sebastian Schonlau under pressure during pre-season in 2018 - Credit: Focus Images Ltd

German centre-back Sebastian Schonlau is being linked with Norwich City ahead of the expiration of his Paderborn contract this summer.

That's despite the change in work permit regulations since the UK left the European Union at the start of this year, with Schonlau not being an international player.

Regional newspaper Westfalen Blatt followed up on comments made by television pundit Torsten Mattuschka, a former Union Berlin midfielder, during Paderborn's 2-0 win at St Pauli on Sunday.

The defender scored a header during that victory over their mid-table rivals, with the Sky pundit suggesting the Paderborn captain had been on the Canaries' radar last summer following relegation from the Premier League - before Brexit had reshaped the transfer market for UK clubs.

Mattuschka also said that Schonlau is likely to head for England when he becomes a free agent at the end of this season, seemingly overlooking the impacts of Brexit. The 26-year-old refused to comment on his future in interviews after the game.

The report goes on to state that Norwich didn't make a firm offer last summer but that his status as a free agent is likely to make him a player that City head coach Daniel Farke is aware of.

Farke is originally from the town of Buren, near Paderborn, in the North Rhine-Westphalia region and played for the club during the mid-1990s.

The report goes on to point out further links, including striker Dennis Srbeny, who City sold back to Paderborn in January 2020 after his move didn't work out, as well as Mario Vrancic and Lukas Rupp having previously played for the Bundesliga II club.

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Schonlau came through Paderborn's youth system, also spending one season on loan at SC Verl in the fourth tier as a youngster before making the breakthrough at senior level.

He played a crucial part in successive promotions to reach the Bundesliga in 2019 but the club slipped straight back to the second tier, where they currently sit ninth and with promotion prospects looking very slim. 

Schonlau faced Norwich in 2018 when Farke's team were at their usual pre-season base in the North Rhine-Westphalia region, when a goal from Srbeny and a brace from Teemu Pukki saw City hit back from 2-0 down at half-time to win the friendly 3-2. 

Last summer the Canaries brought in Ben Gibson on loan from Burnley, with a view to a permanent deal for around £8million if promotion can be secured.

Timm Klose was allowed to join Basel on loan with a view to a permanent deal and Ben Godfrey was sold to Everton in a deal which could be worth around £25million.

Gibson and skipper Grant Hanley have been at the heart of City's impressive promotion push, which has left them firmly on course for an immediate Premier League return with 10 games remaining.

With Christoph Zimmermann as chief support, it looks highly likely that at least one centre-back will be on the shopping list for City this summer if they do go up, after injuries caused such major problems in central defence during the top-flight relegation of 2019-20.