Norwich City are lacking in the defensive midfield positions, with Danish midfielder Jacob Lungi Sörensen the only real recognised option for that position at the club but the 25-year-old remains sidelined with an injury currently.
Gabriel Sara and Kenny McLean are competently performing playing in the role at the moment to make up for a lack of options – the latter winning five of his seven ground duels up against QPR on Saturday as per Sofascore – but David Wagner’s side could do with a new recruit in the building to play in defensive midfield.
Norwich haven’t had an enforcer in that position since Oliver Skipp departed the club in 2021 after a hugely successful loan from Tottenham, the 23-year-old now in and around the first team at Spurs after a formative year away at Carrow Road.
Winning 56 tackles in total during the 2020-21 season with the Canaries as per FBRef – which saw Norwich lift the Championship title – Skipp provided the side with the necessary grit and drive at the back that allowed the likes of Emiliano Buendía and Teemu Pukki to roam with more confidence going forward.
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Norwich could utilise the appointment of a new face in at Carrow Road effectively, bolstering their faltering squad with an injection of youth.
Wagner will hope he can land his very own Skipp in January to strengthen his current group, adding in a resilient figure to aid a leaky Canaries backline that will hopefully see more wins tallied up for his team as a result.
Norwich have been linked with Eiran Cashin from Derby County in the past, but Wagner should cast his eye over the full Rams squad and take a punt on Max Bird this January to bolster his defensive midfield options.
Bird has also been subject to plenty of interest for his services, and with the Derby midfielder’s contract at the club running out soon, Norwich should swoop in for the 23-year-old in an attempt to get him at a cut-price.
The defensive midfielder has starred for Paul Warne’s promotion-chasing Rams this season, averaging 4.8 balls recovered per game this campaign in League One from the centre of the park.
Derby’s number 8 can even play further up the field in an attacking midfield role, potentially competing with Marcelino Núñez if he was to be signed.
Bird scored two goals in his side’s recent comprehensive 4-0 league win over Northampton Town from that more forward-thinking role, Wagner foolish not to test the waters at Pride Park with a bid for their star-man this upcoming transfer window.
Another holding midfield option the under-pressure German manager could look to sign is George Dobson at Charlton Athletic, the Addicks captain ever present for his team this campaign.
Averaging a 7.18 Sofascore rating in League One this season, Charlton’s number four has been tough in the tackle for Michael Appleton’s playoff-aspiring side centrally so far – picking up four yellow cards already, from 17 matches played.
His ball recovery numbers are astounding for Charlton to make up for his hot-headedness, averaging 8.5 balls recovered per game for the Addicks in the third tier.
Tireless and constantly attempting to break up play, Dobson’s game really does put him in the Skipp mould Norwich are desiring from an incoming defensive midfielder.
Dobson even has three goals this season for Appleton’s men, scoring a long-range effort in the FA Cup in-front of the TV cameras.
The former Sunderland man might take some convincing to walk away from the Valley – wearing the captain’s armband for the third-tier side this season as a crucial part of the Charlton jigsaw – but it’s a move still worth chasing by Wagner this January.
Norwich could go back down the route of getting a youngster in from the Premier League on loan that worked so effectively with Skipp first time around, Jenson Metcalfe from Everton sticking out as an impressive defensive midfielder in Premier League 2.
For the Toffees at U23 level this season, Metcalfe has a goal and two assists from eight appearances – switching between playing further back as an anchor and playing in a more straightforward central position.
Metcalfe’s footballing idol according to Everton’s official club website is Sergio Busquets, which is evident in the 19-year-old’s game – a disrupting presence in the middle of the park, offering bursts of energy for his team in patches.
Signing a senior contract at Goodison Park last year to keep him with Everton until 2026, now could be the right time for Metcalfe to experience men’s football away from the Toffees. Could Norwich be a perfect next step for the promising midfielder? Time will tell.