Tales of John Ruddy’s Norwich City exit carry troubling ramifications

Posted by Paddy Davitt

Paul Thomas/Getty ImagesNorwich goalkeeper John Ruddy is being pursued by Chelsea.

It takes some doing in a week where Norwich City have smashed their club-record transfer fee and by way of an encore snatched one of England's finest young talents that Chelsea's reported courting of John Ruddy continued to compete for column inches.

The Canaries have shown their ambitious hand with the unveilings of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Nathan Redmond to equip a squad which has now finished in mid-table twice in the Premier League. Sights are being raised incrementally. Relegation struggles are no longer the sum total of the club's reach. Yet that corporate mission is being buffeted by outside forces.

The Europa League winners are widely reported to have identified Norwich's England international keeper as a potential addition to a healthy stock of numbers that include the evergreen Petr Cech and one of the game's rising stars in Thibault Courtois. The Belgian will return to Atletico Madrid for another season-long loan -- hence Jose Mourinho's clear need to find an experienced option. Given Cech has shown few signs of fallibility, in all probability the incoming arrival is likely to be cast in a shadow role.

Whether Ruddy would willingly accept such a commission in a World Cup cycle is a moot point. The debate is largely hypothetical until such time a potential suitor meets the Canaries' valuation for a 26-year-old rounding into his prime and with two seasons of consistent Premier League performances on his CV. Certainly a £3m down payment plus a further £2m in add-ons -- the reported starting point in Chelsea's courtship -- is a derisory figure.

- Norwich 'turn down Blues bid for Ruddy'

All the attendant speculation suggesting Ruddy would be keen on a Stamford Bridge switch or that the Blues' hierarchy is ready to test Norwich's resolve with an improved offer remains smoke-and-mirrors. Ruddy returned to pre-season training this week and would be expected to head to Austria and then the United States as City step up their summer preparations for Everton's opening day Premier League visit on August 17.

Chris Hughton and Norwich's board are in the business of additions. The departure of young keeping prospect Jed Steer to Aston Villa last week caused genuine ripples of alarm. Hughton confirmed at Redmond's official unveiling on Friday he is now in the market place for a third senior back-up option to Ruddy and Mark Bunn.

Speculation on the future of his number one is unhelpful and slightly unnerving for the Canaries' support. City right now is a club trying to build solid foundations in a bid for Premier League longevity; that will not happen if they lose their best operators. Ruddy is entitled to have his say on a personal level, but Norwich's progress depends on continuing to make headlines for the right reasons during this frenetic trading window.

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