Ipswich Town transfer rumours: Blues target Marley Watkins set to sign for Norwich City

Marley Watkins, left, is a target for both Ipswich Town and Norwich City. Picture: PA SPORT

Marley Watkins, left, is a target for both Ipswich Town and Norwich City. Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA

Norwich City have moved into pole position to sign former Barnsley attacker Marley Watkins, ahead of Ipswich Town.

The 26-year-old free agent opted to reject a new deal at Oakwell to spark an intense battle amongst a clutch of Championship clubs for his services.

City’s bitter East Anglian rivals Ipswich Town reportedly failed with two seven figure bids in the January transfer window, and were heavily touted with a fresh summer move, along with Cardiff City, Aston Villa, Wolves and Bristol City.

The Canaries’ new sporting director Stuart Webber, however, had pledged to overhaul a squad who missed out on a top six place and Watkins is poised to join City’s Championship crusade when his Barnsley contract officially runs out later this month.

Watkins confirmed his pending departure from the Reds on his official Twitter account last week. The former Swansea trainee, who can operate on either flank or down the middle, was a key figure in Barnsley’s rise from League One under Paul Heckingbottom.

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The 26-year-old has been on the fringes of the Welsh senior squad over the past 12 months and would appear to fit the criteria Webber publicly outlined in his recruitment strategy, after rebuilding his career in non league when he initially failed to make the grade at Swansea City.

Watkins also spent two years with Inverness and scored at Hampden Park in a Scottish Cup final win over Falkirk before joining the Reds, where he added the Football League Trophy and promotion from League One.

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The wide player scored 10 goals in 45 appearances last season, including a Championship equaliser against Webber’s former club Huddersfield in February.

Watkins’ ex-boss at Inverness and Ipswich legend, Terry Butcher, admitted last week he feared his old team would miss the boat. “I think he will now go to a club that will be able to offer him a lot more than what Ipswich can pay him,” he said. “Unfortunately, I think he will be moving on to bigger and better things now as there are a number of quality clubs looking at him. Celtic have been linked with him in Scotland and then there is interest from some high-end Championship clubs and even the Premier League.”

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