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Norwich City writer gives insight into young defender, scouted by Man Utd

Last week it emerged that Manchester United may have been scouting Norwich City defender Ben Godfrey.

While we keep an eye on what’s happening in the Championship, it’s hard to find the time to watch all of your favourite leagues with a few others thrown in, so we can’t claim to know a great deal about Godfrey or even how good he is…

I reached out to one of the Norwich City writers at the Eastern Daily Press and Norwich Evening News to gain some insight into a player seemingly on United’s radar.

David Freezer (@davefreezer) provided the answers to our questions, which you can read below.

Ben Godfrey’s form this season has earned him a call-up to England U-20s and he’s now being linked with a £10m transfer to Manchester United. How important has he been to City’s promotion driven season?

Godfrey returned from a very successful season-long loan with League One side Shrewsbury, which ended in play-off final defeat to Rotherham, with a reputation as a bit of a wrecking ball defensive midfielder. He’d clearly had the stature and power for City’s U23s since being brought in from York in January 2016, in a deal reportedly worth up to £1m, but the club’s coaches seemed keen to convert him to a centre-back.

At the start of this season, we thought he might begin to take the defensive midfield reins from the experienced Alex Tettey, but Daniel Farke had spoken of his ‘world class’ potential in central defence. He was on the fringes until an injury to Timm Klose in December, and has taken his chance ever since – starting the last 18 league games, including a couple of games covering for the injured Jamal Lewis at left-back, keeping Switzerland international Timm Klose and club captain Grant Hanley on the bench.

United need to sign a centre-back this summer, but Godfrey doesn’t quite stack up strongly against other targets such as Toby Alderweireld and Kalidou Koulibaly. How good can the youngster become?

It’s too early to tell but his passing, aerial ability and physicality offer real potential, as does his attitude. It’s easy to see how determined he is, just look at his goal celebrations to see how much it means to him, but he’s not a Premier League defender yet. He’s really impressed recently, earning England U20 recognition, but it’s still early stages in his development. Farke has praised him recently for being calmer and being able to control his temperament during the heat of battle. If he continues to play regularly and get good coaching, there is clearly top-level ability there.

Did it annoy Norwich City fans when they initially heard United had been scouring Godfrey this month?

Not really, the £10m fee touted by The Sun was given short shrift though. City fans would be expecting a deal worth £15m at the least, given the market value of young English players at the moment, with James Maddison reportedly sold for an initial £20m to Leicester last summer, potentially rising to £24m. He has been linked with Arsenal, Lyon and RB Leipzig as well, while full-backs Max Aarons and Jamal Lewis have been linked with most of the Premier League in the last year, so fans are used to the speculation. If Farke’s team can seal promotion then the club are in a strong position, they have highly rated assets and stable finances, so offers would have to be tempting.

Has Godfrey played for Norwich in other positions?

He made his Norwich debut at right-back as an 18-year-old at the start of 2016-17, coming in during the closing stages of an EFL Cup thrashing of Coventry at Carrow Road and smashing in a goal from just outside the box, to introduce himself to Canaries fans in style. He had made the odd midfield appearance as a substitute for the first team but mainly featured as a centre-back for the U23s. It was at Shrewsbury where he got his real run in defensive midfield. He made his League Two debut for York at 17 and I believe most of those early games were as a midfielder.

What’s the most likely outcome for the defender this summer?

City are four points clear at the top of the Championship with eight games remaining and all their young talent is under long-term contract. Should they seal promotion, they hold all the trump cards, and playing regular football in the Premier League would surely be Godfrey’s best option. If Norwich don’t seal the deal, then I guess any of the young lads could well have their head turned by PL interest, that’s football. Either way, I suspect Norwich fans are hoping they will continue to see Godfrey develop in Norfolk next season.

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