Ritchie De Laet is confident regular Barclays Premier League football with Norwich next season will provide the perfect platform for his development after agreeing a loan move from Manchester United.
The 22-year-old Belgian is set to spend the forthcoming campaign at Carrow Road - his season-long deal “subject to the relevant paperwork being completed” - where he will add some defensive cover to the Canaries as they look to stay in the top flight.
De Laet joined the Red Devils from Stoke in January 2009, and is mainly a centre-back, but can also play on the left, making his United first team debut against Hull on the final day of the 2008/2009 season.
Following loan stints in the Championship with Sheffield United, Preston and last season Portsmouth, De Laet is ready to test himself against the best on a regular basis.
“I am really pleased to be able to continue my development as a young player with Norwich, where the manager has given me this chance to come in and fight for a place in the team,” said the former Royal Antwerp trainee.
“I know it’s going to be very tough because the lads there have done really, really well and it’s going to be a big challenge to get into a team which is really used to winning and is a great, tight-knit group.”
De Laet added: “I am sure everybody can’t wait to get going. Every game will be very tough and competitive, that’s what the Premier League is all about.
“I am looking forward to joining in with pre-season training and getting to know the rest of the lads as we all start getting down to some serious work and then the friendlies before the Premier League starts.”
Norwich boss Paul Lambert had been quick to bolster his attacking options with the capture of forwards James Vaughan, Steve Morison and Brighton winger Elliott Bennett.
Lambert believes De Laet will complement the current group well.
“Ritchie will be great for us,” said the Canaries manager.
“He is young and one of his main strengths is pace and he comes from a great club where he’s played first team football. He will come in and help the other lads out.
“Ritchie has played a lot of first team games out on loan last season and I am sure he’ll do great for us.”
Lambert admitted the reality of what the Norfolk club had achieved was driven home by Friday’s fixtures announcement, which will see Norwich start at Wigan and head to Chelsea in their third game.
“You look at back-to-back away games at Manchester United and Liverpool in October and that just shows the level we’ve worked hard to get to,” said the Scot, who guided Norwich to the League One title two seasons ago.
“We have earned the right to be here - it is a great challenge and exciting times for the club and the fans.”