Norwich City announced the signing of Sebastian Soto today on a three-year contract. The 20-year-old American striker joined the club on a free transfer. The move was first reported in May by Bild and supposedly includes a modest training compensation fee paid to Hannover 96.
Soto was recently with the German club in the 2. Bundesliga after joining its academy in 2018. He made five appearances for Die Roten over two seasons, but spent most of his time with the reserve and U-19 sides. It appeared that his opportunity for playing time dried up, particularly after neither signing a new contract nor finding a move away from the club. In January, he was criticized by Hannover manager Kenan Kocak as not “standing a chance” because he lacked fitness and aggression.
The move to England should redirect his young career. It seems that Soto has found a club with which he can develop and eventually earn consistent playing time.
“It’s super exciting to join Norwich City,” he said in a statement released by the team. “Being a young player, it’s nice to hear that the head coach gives us a chance. It was a big factor in me moving here. I’m striker that loves scoring goals. I love being part of a good team that plays good football.”
Soto’s Norwich career won’t start at Carrow Road, however. According to Jeff Carlisle of ESPN, his work permit was denied and “he’ll be forced to go out on loan for the first year of the deal, with a move to Dutch Eerste Divisie side Telstar among the possibilities.” Bild reported there was loan interest from clubs in Belgium and Germany.
SC Telstar confirmed his trial on the club’s official Twitter account.
Er reizen drie extra spelers mee met de selectie | Naast Vincent Regeling sluiten ook aanvallers Lesley de Sa en Sebastian Soto aan | Lesley de Sa is transfervrij terwijl Amerikaans jeugdinternational Sebastian Soto onder contract staat bij Norwich City pic.twitter.com/EqMShiou46— Witte Leeuwen (@telstar1963nv) July 27, 2020
Soto is a frequent participant in various U.S. youth national teams. He scored four goals at the 2019 U-20 World Cup in the run to the quarterfinal round, with braces against Nigeria and France. The California native will likely be included in the United States U-23 squad that will compete for a shot at the Olympics.
Norwich will spend next season in the English Championship, following relegation from the Premier League. The Canaries finished in 20th place with 21 points from 38 matches. The club will renew its challenge to return to the top flight in the near future.
It appears Soto put himself in a better position to thrive than at Hannover. However, the success of this move is largely dependent on whether he earns a work permit. If not, he risks remaining in loan limbo for an unforeseen amount of time, which would further stall his development and delay eventual inclusion in the senior national team.
Do you think this is a good move for Soto? Let us know in the comment section.