Norwich City's first season back in the Premier League has been rather disappointing, with the Canaries currently stranded at bottom of the table on 21 points.
Although the season had not gone as planned before football's enforced shutdown, they have seen the emergence of a knight in shining armour in the form of Todd Cantwell, who's enjoyed a positive first season in England's top flight.
The Norfolk baller has played in every one of Norwich’s Premier League games this season, scoring six goals and assisting two so far in this year's campaign, and that impressive form has seen the 22-year-old linked with teams like Liverpool and Manchester United.
But the simple point is that Norwich cannot afford to let Cantwell leave.
Instead, they should take inspiration from one of the clubs they were promoted alongside last season. Aston Villa have built their team around one player, that player being Jack Grealish, and while the Villans have hardly pulled up trees since their return to the Premier League, they are undeniably a better outfit thanks to the presence of their homegrown star.
If you take Grealish away from that team, you’ve got a very big gap to fill. The 24-year-old possesses a quality that is rare in the modern-day footballer and that is loyalty. The midfielder has stayed put over the years and morphed himself into a cult figure at Villa Park, despite numerous links with high profile clubs since initially attracting interest during the 2014/15 season.
At times his behaviour can be and has been questioned, but one thing you can never question is his commitment to the cause. Grealish has an undying love for the football club and his devotion is highlighted every time he puts on a Villa shirt.
It’s likely that clubs will be after his signature this summer, but the fact that he didn’t move prematurely has had a massive impact on Grealish’s career. If anything, it's made him a better player and it gave him vital first-team opportunities. Grealish worked tirelessly for the club in the Championship and his reward was the captain's armband.
So wouldn't it make sense for Norwich to build their team around their bright young thing?
Cantwell has already proven that he has bundles of ability, but at the moment moving to a club like Liverpool would spell danger for him. He simply wouldn’t get enough first-team football and his development would surely be stunted if he were to make the big move.
Norwich and Cantwell are a solid combination - perhaps even better than Cantwell and Young Thug, and that’s saying something.
Todd Cantwell talks celebrations, Young Thug and surfing ♂️— Premier League (@premierleague) March 26, 2020
Avoiding relegation from the Premier League is still a possibility and Norwich can still escape the drop, but if they do get relegated then keeping hold of Cantwell has to be their priority.
Building the team around him makes perfect sense when you think about the player’s background, having joined the Norwich youth academy as a ten-year-old, climbing through the ranks from that point on.
Of course, it would be near enough impossible for the Canaries to turn down a £30m bid for him and the sale of the midfielder might be something they are forced to do if they do get relegated.
But Cantwell needs to take a long hard look in the mirror and ask himself where he is and where he wants to be in his career. He needs to scream 'Where are you?' Delia Smith-style while staring at his blonde reflection.
One more season at Carrow Road would not hinder him - in fact, it would most likely be the making of him, especially if he proved to be the main man in England's second tier if Norwich did drop into the Championship.
Building the team around the midfielder seems like a very logical thing to do and the foundations are in place for it to happen. Cantwell has the potential to go down as one of Norwich's best ever players, but the club need to keep hold of him and make him their star for that to happen.
Source : 90min