Connor Southwell: Todd Cantwell set for huge dilemma this summer amid Reds interest
PUBLISHED: 17:04 17 February 2020 | UPDATED: 17:04 17 February 2020
Should I stay or should I go? The age old question put into musical form by The Clash, and one Todd Cantwell could find himself repeating come the summer.
It's a question Norwich City supporters would have expected to circulate around their young talents but few in August would have expected Cantwell to be involved in those discussions.
Last season, he occupied the periphery of Daniel Farke's squad but has emerged as a critical component of City's top-flight blueprint, proving the doubters wrong in the process.
The 'Dereham Deco', as he has been christened by City supporters, has been instrumental in City's offensive productivity, with the 21-year-old sitting behind Teemu Pukki in the club's goal scoring charts.
Cantwell has scored six goals for the Canaries this season, but also ranks secondary for key passes behind only Emi Buendia for players who have featured on more than 10 occasions.
His performances in the Premier League have reportedly caught the attentions of some of football's biggest entities, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur all rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services.
Only two years previous, Cantwell found himself on loan in the Dutch second division with Fortuna Sittard. He battled homesickness as he experienced life away from Norfolk for the first time.
That provided him with a maturity, something often missing from young talents who witness their stock rise at an early age.
For City, this is the purpose of the culture constructed by sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Daniel Farke. They provide a stage on which young talent can develop and improve in an environment that embraces mistakes.
The freedom of expression for young footballers is rare but at Carrow Road, they have a platform whereby their raw materials are embraced by the head honchos who want to see their career's develop on an upwards trajectory.
Unlike City's other academy graduates, Cantwell is Norfolk born and bred. His rise to Premier League fame began at Dereham Town before he joined City's academy aged 10.
His heritage is rooted firmly in the county but could his footballing aspirations see Cantwell join one of English football's powerhouses?
Technically, his ability is there for all to consume, the manner in which he dropped his shoulder and worked the ball past Trent Alexander-Arnold a reminder of his impromptu ability.
Undoubtedly, he possesses the temperament and self-confidence required to compete at the next level, but his lack of explosive pace may prove a hindrance should Liverpool opt to sign the youngster.
Asked about whether he could play for a top six club in the future, Cantwell responded: "With development and improvement, I could definitely get to that position. But it touches a little bit on self-confidence. If you don't believe that then there's no real point in starting out in the first place.
"You've really got to believe that you can get to the highest point. If you don't, who will? I'm learning. Things aren't always going to be perfect," Cantwell told the Daily Mail.
"I'm going to make mistakes, I can assure you of that. But I genuinely feel like I'm becoming a better player."
His game is reliant on his technique to unlock a door, something which may lend itself more to a side who probe with possession rather than dominate in the transition and seek to counter attack.
Should Cantwell opt to depart Carrow Road, then ensuring he gets regular game time at a club willing to embrace his will for expression and accept his flaws will be pivotal.
As a thinker, he is meaningful and considered, they are traits he'll require should the possibility of a move arise.
Past examples of bright talents shining and then leaving for pastures new often haven't transpired in a positive manner either, Scott Sinclair and Jack Rodwell both saw their careers stall after big-money moves to Manchester City.
Therein lies the dilemma. Opting to join a massive club comes with the risks that the fight for first-team football can difficult but the rewards should a player make it are, both personally and professionally, so rewarding.
Despite all the speculation, Cantwell could opt to continue his progression in Norfolk with City. Whether they'll offer another season of Premier League football remains unclear, but at Carrow Road, Cantwell would be the major protagonist in a potential top-flight return.
Ultimately, it'll come down to personal ambition and financial suitability for both parties.