Relegated Norwich have agreed a club record £11.5million deal for Brazilian Gabriel Sara after City’s sporting director Stuart Webber flew to South America.
Attacking midfielder Sara, 23, has agreed to leave top-flight club Sao Paulo in Brazil to pen a five-year deal in Norfolk. He will become the club’s first ever Brazilian player after Webber thrashed out a deal to beat off competition from West Brom and MSL outfit FC Dallas.
Sara, who has had an ankle injury, is now due to fly to Norwich this week to complete the deal. The terms are an initial £9m but with add-ons for promotion and potential Cup success could reach £11.5m.
Sara is set to become the Canaries’ second summer signing after Isaac Hayden as boss Dean Smith rebuilds after they dropped into the Championship. The deal is set to eclipse the £9m paid for Steven Naismith from Everton in 2016 and similar fee last summer for Greece international Christos Tzilos from PAOK.Sao Paulo’s director of football Eduardo Affonso said: “Sara is important to us, but life goes on. We have to try until we find some replacement in the market.” The deal includes a 10% sell-on clause for Sao Paulo if Norwich sell the midfielder for a profit in the future.
Norwich recently also agreed a footballing partnership with Brazilian top-flight side Coritiba and now have permanent scouts in Brazil and Argentina. Webber’s trip to South America comes in the wake of furious criticism of him from angry fans fuming at City’s dismal relegation last term.
Some fans called for sporting director Webber to be sacked and co-owner Delia Smith to sell up.
But Webber insisted Norwich would not risk financial ruin by abandoning their cautious spending policy. He said: “If we make a big mistake we go bust.
“We could easily be mid-table in the Championship by not taking any risks, because ultimately that’s probably where we are in the football pecking order. People don’t like to hear that.”
He dismissed his critics as “20 people with a bed sheet” and refused to back down on his decision to climb Mount Everest.
He said: “My commitment has always been 100 percent, the difference is I asked for 10 percent of my life back. If people aren’t happy with that I genuinely don’t care.”
Webber oversaw the recruitment of 11 new faces last summer but the Canaries got off to a terrible start and went down.
“How quickly people went after us was surprising,” he said. “The fans gave up quickly, the local media went after us.”