Norwich and Cardiff rue relegation as Wolf and Medel on the move
The Football League season starts in less than a week, but two of the Championship promotion hopefuls’ record signings look set to leave Cardiff City and Norwich City respectively before club football resumes.
Second-tier title favourites at 15/2, Cardiff are set to make a net loss of £1m on holding midfielder and Chile international centre back Gary Medel, 26, as Italian Serie A giants Inter Milan have met their valuation of him. The Bluebirds splashed £11m on securing his services from Spanish La Liga side Sevilla last summer, but his stay in Wales looks hugely likely to last just one season now.
Medel made a real impression on international duty at the World Cup, stepping out from Chile’s defence to set them away on attacks several times. Playing in the centre of a rearguard trio under Argentine coach Jorge Sampaoli, he could be set for a similar berth at the blue half of the San Siro, as Nerazzurri manager Walter Mazzarri uses a wing back system.
It has been a summer of high-profile exits for Cardiff boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer; first seeing hometown hero Craig Bellamy retire, then losing highly-rated centre back Steven Caulker to QPR and forward Fraizer Campbell to Crystal Palace.
Hoops boss Harry Redknapp has also tested the water by bidding £5m for another Bluebirds performer, in midfielder Jordon Mutch, but that has been rebuffed. QPR are expecting to come back with an improved offer, however.
All these exits from Cardiff and interest in their players comes before they bring the curtain up on the new season with an away trip to Blackburn Rovers on August 8th. Over in East Anglia, meanwhile, will anyone mourn the loss of Norwich striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel?
The Dutch frontman, 25, endured a dismal debut campaign in England, scoring just once in 27 outings in all competitions. Now Van Wolfswinkel, an £8.5m buy from Sporting Lisbon, is in talks with French Ligue 1 outfit St-Etienne over a season-long loan switch across the Channel.
Canaries coach Neil Adams has already moved to strengthen his attacking options at Carrow Road with the captures of Bournemouth top scorer Lewis Grabban, and one-time Burnley and Rangers forward Kyle Lafferty. This would appear to be Norwich’s front two for this term, though Grabban could be moved to a wide berth to accommodate Gary Hooper.
Wherever Van Wolfswinkel plays his football this season, he has a lot to prove. He averaged about a goal every other game in Portugal, but would have to compete with proven Ligue 1 scorer Mevlut Erding at St-Etienne. Les Verts also have ageing Brazilian frontman Brandao and former Leeds United and Leicester City winger Max Gradel on their books.
Norwich are 10/3 chances under managerial novice Adams, who has yet to win a competitive fixture in charge of the club, for promotion at the first attempt.