Leroy Fer -- the one that got away from Manchester United’s David Moyes

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Leroy Fer Norwich City GettyImagesLeroy Fer has been the pick of Norwich's summer signings.

Norwich City’s Dutch international midfielder Leroy Fer has more reason than most to impress against Manchester United this weekend.

The 23-year-old was not only a boyhood Red but was coveted by David Moyes when Sir Alex Ferguson’s anointed successor was carving out his reputation at Everton. Fer was all set to complete a switch to Merseyside a year ago until his club FC Twente pulled the plug on a proposed move -- the prospective purchaser had lingering concerns over Fer’s recovery from a knee injury. Everton’s loss was most certainly Norwich’s gain after an impressive end to the season for his club paved the way to an eye-catching role in the Dutch Under-21s European Championship campaign last summer.

• Report: Norwich 1-2 Fulham

City were in pole position when Everton renewed their interest after the tournament and Fer was relocated to Norfolk where he has been a revelation for Chris Hughton’s squad.

The powerful midfielder’s athleticism and technical grace have marked him out as the best of the foreign imports and domestic recruits during a record close season splurge from the Canaries. City’s head of recruitment Ewan Chester has admitted Fer was the standout player scouted by Norwich last season and nothing in his mature displays in the opening months of a blossoming Premier League campaign have suggested Chester’s assessment was wide of the mark.

Fer’s prowess in a losing cause at Newcastle prompted Magpies chief Alan Pardew to insist the Dutch international had announced himself on the big stage. Such headline-grabbing displays have inevitably prompted speculation with the New Year trading window looming into view but Fer and Norwich appear a perfect match at this stage of his career development. City have underlined in recent weeks they are building, not dismantling, a squad with a clutch of their key performers pledging their futures to the club. Fer’s accelerated progress could end with a World Cup call for his country, which would be a major shop window, but in order to mark himself out of as the real deal, the midfielder needs to perform against the likes of United. Moyes will know all about the man he came so close to recruiting and there would be no better stage to prove the former Toffees’ boss right than helping inspire Norwich to halt United’s winning surge.

Fer and Bradley Johnson will be key performers in those central heartlands at Carrow Road with Hughton admitting he is looking for the same obdurate display from last weekend’s battling rear-guard action against Sunderland, rather than the anaemic offering in the Boxing Day defeat to Fulham. That was a dispiriting return on an afternoon when Scott Parker’s experience and Steve Sidwell’s nous carried sway. Hughton admitted as much on Friday at his pre-match press call ahead of the champions’ visit. Norwich inflicted Sir Alex’s last ever away league defeat in last season’s corresponding fixture. To stand any chance of a repeat they will need Fer at his very best.


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