A product of the Norwich youth academy, 20-year-old Jonathan Rowe has begun to find his feet in professional football this campaign. The North-West London-born forward has started the season in an impressive fashion with seven goals and one assist in the opening 15 games of the season, putting him ninth in terms of goal contributions in England’s second tier for the Canaries, who sit 17th in the Championship.
Rowe has been at Norwich since the age of 12 and has worked his way through all levels of the youth ranks at Norwich’s Colney training base before earning his important role in the squad. The electric start to the season in which he scored five goals in five consecutive matches certainly reaped its rewards as Rowe was awarded EFL’s Young Player of the Month award due to his performances in August.
He officially made his senior debut back in 2021 in a 3-0 loss to Crystal Palace however with Norwich coach David Wagner, putting his faith in Rowe, he has since found himself a mainstay in this setup quickly becoming a fan favourite at Carrow Road. After showing such promise in the early stages of the campaign, Rowe was rewarded with a place in England U21 squad for the U21 Euro Qualification matches against Serbia and Ukraine.
Despite starting the former fixture on the bench, Rowe took his chance when he was deservedly given his debut, scoring the eighth goal in a 9-1 rout against Serbia. Seemingly everything he touches is turning to gold right now.
Rowe is a right-footed, left-sided forward and is a confident operator. Performing at 0.62 NPG (Non-Penalty Goals) per 90 ranking him in the elite percentile for forwards at his level. The only caveat that arrives with this is that he is performing at a 0.24 npxG (Non-Penalty Expected Goals) per 90; this shows how Rowe is overperforming in comparison to his statistics. If he is able to find himself in areas to convert more chances ie. in and around the box more often then he may just be able to maintain his form throughout the course of the season.
With 8 goal contributions, only Gabriel Sara (10) has more amongst Norwich’s squad this season. Only Sara (11), Josh Sargent (15) and Teemu Pukki (17) had more goal contributions amongst Norwich’s squad last season, and whilst Pukki has since departed for MLS club Minnesota United, Sargent began the season with three goals and an assist only to suffer an injury on August 26 which has kept him sidelined until further notice. This highlights the importance of Rowe’s contributions, showcasing how well he has taken the opportunity granted to him by David Wagner. If he continues to perform at this level he will undoubtedly become Norwich’s main goal threat.
With Rowe operating in wide areas, he possesses a skillset that Wagner will look for in his wide men. Having the ability to change pace at high speed is a trait that The Canaries forward uses in the final third. Despite being 5’10, Rowe uses his low centre of gravity to glide past defenders looking to cause danger against his opposition.
This becomes effective when in and around the box where he specifically likes to flex his muscles. Averaging 4.88 touches in the attacking penalty area per 90 highlights Rowe’s confidence in advanced attacking positions. Wagner’s Norwich have mainly set up in a 4-2-3-1 with Rowe operating as the left-sided forward increasing the importance of his ability to successfully progress the ball into the attacking third, averaging 4.26 progressive carries per 90, demonstrating his importance in Norwich’s success thus far.
These strengths are presented perfectly in his goal in gameweek three against Millwall. Rowe picked up the ball in the opposition half and drove at the Millwall full-back before squaring him up. He then shifted the ball inside before playing a pass to the edge of the 18-yard box and making a darting run between the full-back and central defender, highlighting his ability to change pace at high speeds. Rowe then received the ball back in the box before taking one touch to set himself and then firing an excellent strike across the goalkeeper into the bottom right corner.
A trio of goals coming your way 🔜
Rowe ➡️ Sara ➡️ Barnes ➡️ Rowe ➡️ 💥 pic.twitter.com/zVUAK5oJKi
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) August 20, 2023
Another positive feature of Rowe’s game is his ambidexterity. Capable of playing on either side of the front three/four, he has found the back of the net on numerous occasions via his ‘weaker’ left foot this campaign. The best exhibit of this is during the game against Hull City; Rowe finds room 20 yards out, and shifts the ball onto his left foot before curling a beautiful strike into the top left corner beyond the goalkeeper, demonstrating his adept ball-striking ability with both feet.
44% of the vote on X
53% of the vote on Instagram
— Norwich City FC (@NorwichCityFC) September 9, 2023
What Does the Future Hold for Rowe?
This is Rowe’s breakout campaign, racking up 1,101 minutes in the league to date so the future is extremely bright. However, before fans start getting carried away, it would be good to see if he can maintain this consistency at this level before thinking about what’s ahead. If he can stay grounded and continue producing output that matches his ability, he will continue to be a threat to any defence in the division.
A player with all the key attributes to make it at the top level and the mindset to match. With Rowe being a fan favourite at Carrow Road, it may be in his best interests to stick around for a few seasons to grasp this opportunity of consistent football with both hands.
With this being said, TeamTalk have reported Rowe is close to penning a new deal at Carrow Road amidst interest from a selection of Premier League clubs in summer, despite still having two years left on his current deal, Norwich will be thrilled to have a talent of this calibre tied down long-term.
He is a delight to watch and will more than likely go very far in the game but for now he’s on the watchlist alongside some excellent talent being produced in the Championship at the minute. Keep an eye on Jonathan Rowe.
By: Ben Sheldrick / @benshlrz
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / John Walton – PA Images