The case for signing Norwich City’s Todd Cantwell
21-year-old Norwich City midfielder Todd Cantwell is reportedly a top summer transfer target for the Reds if stories in the media are to be believed. Jurgen Klopp will have had a front seat view of Cantwell in action recently, in the Reds’ narrow 1-0 victory against the Canaries at Carrow Road. Cantwell, who has been a first-team regular this season for Daniel Farke’s Premier League new boys, has scored six goals in his first year in the top-flight, capturing the attention of the scouting networks of all leading EPL clubs.
Of course, the Canaries will be fighting tooth and nail to keep hold of their homegrown prospect, particularly if they can somehow avoid immediate relegation back to the Championship. However, with City seven points adrift of safety with just 12 games left to play, Daniel Farke’s men are unsurprisingly heavy favourites in the Premier League outright odds relegation market.
Cantwell announced himself to the EPL with a wonderful cameo against Newcastle
It was the Canaries’ opening home league game of the season that saw Cantwell well and truly announce himself to the EPL. He laid on two Teemu Pukki goals in a comprehensive 3-1 victory over Newcastle United. At the start of the 2019/20 campaign, it was touch-and-go whether Cantwell would be a regular starter in the City midfield. During pre-season, Cantwell was competing with the likes of Kenny McLean, Moritz Leitner and Mario Vrancic for a place alongside key playmaker Emi Buendia. Vrancic had scored ten goals and made seven assists during Norwich’s title-winning season in 2018/19, so Cantwell’s place in the side was far from certain.
Nevertheless, his confident swagger and eye for goal have cemented him as a firm favourite with the City faithful, keeping the likes of Vrancic waiting in the wings. Cantwell’s path to the top-flight could have been completely different had his head been turned by interest from Arsenal at the time of signing his first professional contract with the Canaries in 2016. By the end of 2019, Cantwell’s career had gone full circle and he was scoring and delivering a man of the match performance against the Gunners at Carrow Road.
A young talent with self-belief and a good work ethic
Although Cantwell may appear confident and vivacious on the pitch, there is no doubt that the Dereham-born starlet is a well-grounded individual off it. He was prepared to put in the hard yards and spend a season playing Dutch football, a league that could hone his technical attributes ready for the big league. A helped Fortuna Sittard gain promotion to the Eredivisie, something that would stand him in good stead mentally for Norwich’s Championship promotion push a year later.
In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Cantwell spoke candidly about the fact that there is a fine line between arrogance and self-confidence on the football pitch. He admitted that during his youth team days he had been written off by many people due to his size and perceived attitude on the field, but Cantwell insists that his self-belief has helped him get to the promised land. He reiterated the need for self-belief and that, providing you “get the balance right”, it’s possible to “get the best out of yourself”.
Where would Cantwell fit in at Anfield?
Caption: Cantwell’s effervescent style and creativity would get the Klopp purring
Looking at Liverpool’s best XI this season, a midfield trio of Keita, Wijnaldum and Henderson is pretty much cemented in Klopp’s high-press, high-energy 4-3-3 system. However, it’s a system that would also suit Cantwell down to the ground too. He could certainly provide competition for Keita’s more advanced midfield role. With Cantwell’s trickery, eye for a pass and agility to glide beyond people in the final third, he would be sure to have the likes of Salah and Firmino licking their lips.
Cantwell’s impact on the Norwich City first team has been similar to that of James Maddison’s starring role for the Canaries back in 2017/18, which earned him a £20m move to Leicester City. Cantwell’s career is certainly on an upward trajectory, of that, there is no doubt.