When Todd Cantwell thundered in an equaliser from 25 yards against Manchester United at the weekend, it served as a welcome reminder that there is an incredible talent hiding underneath his signature hairband.
We haven’t seen it often enough in 2020 after his astonishing start to the season tailed off along with Norwich’s fortunes, but he’s been one of a few bright sparks, and when their drop back into the Championship is eventually confirmed, he looks set to leave for bigger and brighter things.
But just how much bigger and brighter could it get for the vibrant midfielder? And who should be looking to take advantage of the relegation discount to secure his services?
90min ranks some of the teams who would do well to consider an offer.
The Magpies are set to come into a bit of cash this summer, if you didn’t know.
While Cantwell may not be Gareth Bale, he would offer an energetic and lively building block on which to start putting together a new-look team.
He has been briefly linked, though he is just one of literally hundreds of players who have been mooted to join the Saudi revolution at St James’ Park.
As 90min reported on Saturday, Borussia Dortmund are close to announcing the signing of Jude Bellingham. Could he be followed by another exciting English talent?
BVB might well find themselves on the lookout for depth in the wide areas this summer, given Manchester United’s persistent interest in Jadon Sancho.
But while Cantwell isn’t close to the standard of the generational 20-year-old, he would be a lively and versatile signing, capable of covering the gaps left behind.
Sancho is patently the primary target for United this summer, but with Jesse Lingard, Andreas Pereira and perhaps even Juan Mata heading for the exit door in search of first-team football, they may look to supplement his arrival with another attacking addition.
In that event, Cantwell would be more or less ideal. He would come low-profile, relatively cheap, and would fit the club’s current recruitment model like a glove.
There may be questions over whether he is of the standard required – or whether a more experienced option may be sought considering the increasingly youthful look of the squad.
Liverpool aren’t keen to spend big this summer, while they are actively intent on avoiding any sort of business which could stunt the progressions of Curtis Jones and Harvey Elliott into first-team roles.
However, they are suckers for a value-for-money signing, particularly from a relegated club – just look at Georginio Wijnaldum, Andy Robertson and Xherdan Shaqiri.
Their lack of depth in the wide areas has been a particular concern for some fans too, so should Adam Lallana be followed out the door by a fringe attacker or two, there might just be room to squeeze Cantwell in.
Recruiting young has been a staple of Ralph Hasenhuttl’s tenure so far – with all three of his permanent signings so far aged 22 and under at the time of their arrivals – while the club’s history of developing promising talent speaks for itself.
The similarities in Daniel Farke’s high-octane system to the one Hasenhuttl is implementing to increasing success, then, suggest this deal makes a lot of sense on both ends.
He also plays in a position where the Saints need reliable cover. Moussa Djenepo has struggled to hit the ground running, Sofiane Boufal remains untrusted, and Stuart Armstrong – though recently impressive – is not a natural winger.
This one seems to tick all the boxes, with only the fierce competition standing in the Saints’ way.
Arsenal are facing the grim and unenviable task of rebuilding their squad on a shoestring budget this summer, and their depleted drawing power means they will find it difficult to recruit the sort of talent they need.
Cantwell, however, is one of few who fits their budget, while also providing them with the type of player they need.
His ability to play through the middle and provide cover out wide would make him a valuable player for Mikel Arteta, and his attributes – smooth and composed on the ball, rarely giving away possession while capable of unlocking defences with a killer pass – make him a pretty ideal addition to the Spaniard’s system.
It’s not quite the type of signing that would get fans expressing their elation from the rooftops, but Arteta has shown in his business so far that function over fashion is the order of the day.
With European football on the Foxes’ horizon, they will need to add some strength in depth. Demarai Gray isn’t a bad option off the bench, but he’s not exactly what you want to be relying on away to Atlético Madrid, is he?
Cantwell might not improve the Foxes’ first team right off the bat but his impressive return for a desperately struggling Norwich team shows that he is a step up from the likes of Gray or Marc Albrighton – and is only going to improve. His versatility also means that there would be chances for him in a 50+ game season.
He’s the type of player Leicester usually go in for, with a shade or two of James Maddison, whose move from Norwich hasn’t gone too badly in retrospect.
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