Ricky van Wolfswinkel will spearhead Basel’s hopes of a Champions League upset at Manchester United – leaving many Norwich fans rubbing their eyes in disbelief.
Signed for a club-record £8.5million fee four years ago, the Dutch striker flattered to deceive at Carrow Road and managed just two goals in 28 appearances in all competitions.
Van Wolfswinkel was shipped out on loan to St Etienne and Real Betis, before last summer making a permanent switch to Vitesse Arnhem for a nominal fee. The return to Holland brought a change in fortunes for the striker and his fine form earned a summer move to Basle, where he has netted seven goals in as many games.
“I think Ricky has been performing well since he came,” team-mate and captain Marek Suchy said. “He is showing his qualities.
“For us, he’s our offensive number one and we are hoping in each game, also in the game tomorrow, he can do his job and score goals.”
Van Wolfswinkel has been a bright point in a frustrating start of the season for Basle, whose winless streak extended to a third game on Saturday as Lausanne Sport secured a shock 2-1 victory at St Jakob-Park.
It means the Swiss champions arrive at Old Trafford more in hope than expectation, despite having drawn on both of their previous visits in the Champions League.
Basle head coach Raphael Wicky is expecting a tough test on Tuesday and hopes summer signing Van Wolfswinkel can belatedly make an impact on English soil.
“I can only judge his record in England by seeing it was not as good as it was in Holland, Portugal and Switzerland,” he said. “I only want to judge him from the time he has been in Switzerland and he has been fantastic for us.
“He is looking fantastic on the field – he is a real striker in the box, he knows where the goal is – but he is also fantastic to have in the team as a personality.
“Of course he can (score goals in the Champions League like he has in Switzerland). I believe that he can score and I hope that he will score goals in the Champions League for us as well.”