Michael Edwards is said to have found his equal in Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber after Liverpool were unable to land a bargain deal for Norwich City defender Jamal Lewis this summer.
A bid of £10 million was submitted for Lewis’ services last week, with that offer immediately rejected. The feeling at Norwich was that the valuation placed on Lewis by Liverpool was nowhere near a figure they would accept, with Webber wanting to open talks at double that amount.
Stuart Hodge, who is a journalist covering Norwich City, told the Blood Red podcast: “To talk about Jamal Lewis as a £10 million player is fantasy land even allowing for fluctuations due to the pandemic.
“He has that high ceiling in terms of development but he already has that defensive solidity to his game.
“Jamal is not an Andy Robertson-type full-back. He can do the same running but he is about as accomplished defensively at this moment, if not a little bit more so.
“It’s clear that the story emerged from the Liverpool end and not the Norwich end as a means of trying to drive the asking price for Jamal down, hence the derisory opening offer.”
In effect, Liverpool stuck to their guns and Norwich did too, with the two sporting directors unprepared to budge. Liverpool always maintained that they had other options – and it appears that was correct.
Hodge added: “Stuart Webber said on my podcast that Norwich will not be bullied – he made that explicitly clear.
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“He said ‘we set our stall out with the James Maddison transfer’. If you noticed, there are a host of add-ons that Norwich are set to benefit from if Leicester qualify for Europe, caps for England, that sort of thing.
“With Maddison, Norwich were, in terms of the club’s financial situation, under pressure to get a deal done. And they weren’t bullied at that point – they got a club-record fee and a record fee for a Championship player.
“What Webber said to me was that is how we are going to operate going forward. They are under no pressure to sell and the player can utilise their agent, but at the end of the day, it was Norwich who gave them an opportunity.”
Webber was a part of Liverpool’s staff once upon a time, during Damien Comolli’s time in charge of the club. Webber was responsible for Academy recruitment during his time at Anfield, and was a part of the team who signed Raheem Sterling to the club’s ranks.
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And Hodge says that the ex-Reds employee firmly believed that Liverpool would pay his asking price this summer for the left-back. It appears that the Reds had other ideas.
Norwich pointed out, according to Hodge, that the market has increased significantly since Robertson moved from Hull City to Anfield, and Lewis is under contact until 2023.
He concluded: “Liverpool [were] trying to play on the narrative that Norwich are a small club, but Webber has made it clear that Norwich will not be bullied or treated differently.”
Norwich are under no obligation to sell players this summer and wanted to keep their man, so holding out for the full £20 million was not quite the Canaries failing to call Liverpool’s bluff.
Liverpool are now believed to be in the advanced stages of securing a deal for Olympiakos man Konstantinos Tsimikas, but Lewis had been considered to be their number one choice.
Reports suggest that the Reds were unable to agree a fee with Norwich for Lewis and instead have gone elsewhere to spend the amount they have set aside for a backup to Andy Robertson.
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