What's so special about Barcelona and Bayern target Max Aarons?

Max Aarons is nicknamed Dani Alves and Norwich boss Daniel Farke ‘wouldn’t sell him for £50m’… but what is so special about the 20-year-old Englishman wanted by Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AC Milan?

  • Bayern Munich are the latest club interested in Norwich right-back Max Aarons
  • Barcelona wanted to take the 20-year-old on loan but have looked elsewhere
  • Italian clubs AC Milan and Roma have also been linked with the rising star
  • Aarons has impressively taken the news in his stride and maintained his focus
  • He was one of the Norwich players to emerge with credit from last season
  • His skills on the pitch and maturity have never been in doubt at Carrow Road 

Daniel Farke clearly wanted to get something off his chest. What started as a question about the absence of Emiliano Buendia and Todd Cantwell turned into an eight-minute monologue of frustration.

‘I just hope this bloody transfer window will close soon because [only] some players are capable of dealing with this. Max Aarons is the role model. But some are affected by all this,’ said the Norwich boss.

The fact Farke highlighted Aarons as the good guy is significant. The 20-year-old right-back could easily have become hopelessly distracted in recent days.

Norwich right-back Max Aarons has been linked with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and others in recent days as the young Englishman turns heads with his performances 

Norwich manager Daniel Farke has been impressed with how Aarons has handled the attention

News that Barcelona were interested in taking Aarons on loan for the season dropped on the morning of Norwich’s home game against Preston North End on September 19.

As Farke himself said: ‘When a few hours before kick-off such a thing comes out, you can imagine what happened on his phone with messages or whatever.’

This was, after all, one of the biggest clubs in world football wanting to take a Championship right-back on loan.

But Aarons just took this astonishing news in his stride, performing to his usual high standards, concentrating on the task of marking Preston’s Tom Barkhuizen.

Fair enough, he had to take the ribbing of his team-mates in training all week as they rechristened him ‘Dani Alves’. By all accounts, Aarons just laughed it off.

Maybe he didn’t bat an eyelid because such news has become pretty much a daily occurrence.

Aarons celebrates after setting up Jamal Lewis to score against Leicester last season

Now back in the Championship, Aarons hasn’t allowed the attention to affect his concentration

Barcelona’s interest has faded but now European champions Bayern Munich have expressed an interest in him. AC Milan and Roma are circling as well.

It’s little wonder that Farke cannot wait for the close of the window next Monday.

Barcelona’s attempt to sign Aarons on loan without any obligation to buy next summer was pretty cheeky. A try before you buy, in essence.

Especially with Farke saying: ‘I wouldn’t sell Max Aarons for £50million because he’s too valuable for us and we definitely need him. But if anyone is surprised he’s been linked with Barcelona, I’m not. I’m totally not.’

The German will certainly be entitled to celebrate with a beer if it gets to 11pm on deadline day next Monday with Aarons still a Norwich player.

Norwich will expect further offers for Aarons after Barcelona wanted to sign him on loan

News of Barcelona’s interest emerged before Norwich’s match against Preston

After all, there’s no doubt Aarons is among the brightest of English talents and is on track to enjoy a brilliant career.

He will obviously be instrumental to Norwich’s chances of returning to the Premier League at the first time of asking and any hope of this time staying there.

Players in Aarons’ position increasingly have to fulfil a dual role in the modern game. As well as efficiently going about their defensive duties, they must provide an extra attacking dimension.

Aarons fits this mould perfectly. In the two-and-a-bit seasons he has been in the Norwich first team, he has won possession back more times than any of his team-mates and made the joint-most interceptions.

But at the same time he has supplied more crosses and carried the ball forward more than anybody else.

Aarons’ stats for both defensive and offensive elements of his game for Norwich City

How Aarons compares to his Norwich team-mates since he made his debut back in 2018

Aarons worked brilliantly in tandem with Argentine winger Buendia, who likes to drift inside, allowing him to overlap into crossing positions.

It worked a treat during the 2018-19 campaign when they won the Championship by five points and played some outstanding football.

As we all know, their shot at the Premier League was pretty dismal. They lost their last 10 matches either side of lockdown and won just twice in the league after the new year.

Norwich ultimately finished 14 points adrift of safety and faced criticism for not really giving it a go in the top division.

However, Aarons was one of the few players who emerged from a demoralising campaign with his reputation enhanced.

He even ended up on the 100-strong shortlist for the Golden Boy award and the interest from some of Europe’s elite clubs confirms his existing class and potential.

Norwich struggled in the Premier League but Aarons (left) still emerged with plenty of credit

Aarons challenged Arsenal’s Kieran Tierney during last season’s meeting at the Emirates

The inevitable ‘Welcome to Barcelona’ YouTube compilations illustrate Aarons’ ability to make up 10 yards and whip the ball off an opponent, to use his 5ft 10in frame to bounce strikers and fire in crosses that Teemu Pukki, in particular, enjoys.

But equally important is the remarkable maturity Aarons has shown for someone so young.

Farke was so convinced of his abilities that his first two senior appearances for Norwich saw him played out of position at left-back.

His league debut came in the blood and thunder of the Old Farm derby with Ipswich at Portman Road. Aarons was so impressive Farke didn’t drop him for the remainder of the title-winning season.

Nothing fazed the teenager and he has since emerged as a leader in the Norwich side.

His one-on-one chats to rally team-mates, whether during the warm-ups, in game or at half-time helped keep Norwich going during their difficult and short-lived Premier League return.

Aarons shows his attacking instincts to take on Christian Eriksen of Tottenham last season

The England Under-21 international will face stiff competition in Gareth Southgate’s seniors

Aarons has been nicknamed Dani Alves – the Barcelona legend pictured above

In the aforementioned 2-2 draw with Preston, Aarons put an arm round the shoulder of summer signing Przemyslaw Placheta and offered words of encouragement after he missed a sitter. Placheta later scored.

So maybe it should come as little surprise that the Barcelona news didn’t turn his head or cause a loss in concentration.

Patience is a virtue. Aarons should look at Andy Robertson, who only joined Liverpool from Championship side Hull at the age of 23 but has since developed into one of the best left-backs in the world and won the Premier League and Champions League.

The time will also come when Aarons will join England’s embarrassment of riches at right-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Kyle Walker, Kieran Trippier, Reece James, Tariq Lamptey and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will offer plenty of competition.

Another season destroying opposition in the Championship wouldn’t be the worst thing as opposed to potentially warming the bench in Munich or Milan.

You suspect Farke would agree.  

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