Michael Bailey: The promise of Mor - it's worth getting excited about
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
The Canaries' second signing of the summer is primed to be a familiar face - but with a very different opportunity. Michael Bailey assess what Moritz Leitner's pending permanent arrival could deliver
Perhaps we were in danger of overblowing things when he first arrived. There were the caveats of early judgment – but from the moment Moritz Leitner appeared on a pitch in a Norwich City shirt, it was hard to ignore the pedigree on his CV marrying his quality on the ball.
Back then, for City to secure a longer stay for the former Borussia Dortmund and Lazio man seemed pure fantasy – despite Leitner’s previous working relationship with Daniel Farke that proved strong enough to bring him to Norfolk initially.
Of course, in the end Leitner made 12 appearances following his January arrival, after injury knocked the 25-year-old out of his early stride. And in all honesty, there remain some City fans unconvinced Leitner lived up to his billing – the lack of an assist or goal being waved in the air.
Even the sight of Leitner’s team-mates gobsmacked at his miss against Bolton is still fresh in the memory – and perhaps hinted that a player likened to James Maddison, didn’t quite carry the same goal threat.
You can get lost in such themes and numbers but it’s still worth embracing what remains a superb opportunity for Norwich, Farke and especially Moritz Leitner. For instances like that Bolton miss or zeroes against his goal and assist tallies, there was the second highest average key passes per game (1.8) to Maddison (2.8), being dispossessed fewer times than City’s number 23 and effectively being Farke’s most efficient possession pivot.
Those at City’s 1-1 draw with Derby will have seen Leitner’s ability to run a Championship game from midfield – even away from home. Maddison did likewise that day of course, but the pair’s balance in Farke’s side was never the same as that provided – all too briefly – by Maddison and Alex Pritchard. The arrivals of Leitner and Emi Buendía respectively, may come closer to replicating that balance.
Perhaps of more interest now is the EFL’s homegrown rule for next season, where City will have to name seven players registered to an English or Welsh club for three years before they were 21 – think Grant Hanley and Sean Raggett.
From next season, one of those must have also been with Norwich’s academy for a year before they reached 19 – think Jamal Lewis, Remi Matthews, Max Aarons and Todd Cantwell.
It all leaves 11 places free in a matchday squad where Leitner and a host of foreign signings over the last 12 months will hope they get the nod – from Kenny McLean and Buendía, to Alex Tettey, Timm Klose, Mario Vrancic, Dennis Srbeny and a whole load more.
It may be City’s recruitment from here ensures there is no more pressure placed on those homegrown quotas – but none of it should deflect on Moritz Leitner’s pending arrival and what looks to be, on so many levels, a cracking bit of Canaries business.
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…