With every transfer window that passes at Norwich City, there's a growing feeling that this was the one for Max Aarons to spread his wings and leave Carrow Road.

Again that was true when the 22-year-old experienced his second relegation from the Premier League in May, with the assumption that suitors would find themselves a decently-priced asset while the Canaries were willing to sell.

There could be no question over the service Aarons had provided, with four years of hard work, determination and yo-yo-ing at the heart of what Norwich were characterised by.

The transition from Daniel Farke's possession-focused brand to Dean Smith's more pragmatic style also changed the requirements on a man famed for his attacking escapades, with frustration almost intrinsic in the viewing of an Aarons performance since the German's demise.

That predicted interest was not forthcoming, however, and the England under-21 international remained in NR1 despite late attempts to drum up interest in him.

So another Championship shift faced Aarons, and anyone who knew anything about the once-Barcelona target believed it'd be as effortlessly impressive as ever in the second tier.

The script was adhered to in the opening weeks - the right-back became the sole driving force in a creatively vapid Norwich side, and he scored the Canaries' first goal of the season when Milot Rashica teed him up to equalise with Wigan Athletic.

The subsequent trip to Hull was where that direction of travel began to reverse, however. Aarons' clearance into the stomach of Andrew Omobamidele allowed Oscar Estupinan to open the scoring, as the Norwich number two struggled to dent an organised Tigers defence in his restricted attacking role.

Improved performances from his teammates allowed him some respite during the following 10-match unbeaten run, while main competition Sam Byram was forced to play left-back with a plethora of injuries in that area.

When results began to turn, calls for Aarons' replacement may have come in swathes had it not been for that fitness situation. As soon as Dimitris Giannoulis returned to free Byram, the pressure was on.

That pressure told when Smith went all out to solidify his side for the visit of Stoke City, and the reliably secure Byram came into the 11. The impression made by that 3-1 win may have had Aarons fearing for his game time but, as is often the case with the former West Ham man, injury let Byram down.

The Pink Un: Aarons has struggled to make a mark for the Canaries this season.Aarons has struggled to make a mark for the Canaries this season. (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

That doesn't mean that credit isn't due for City fans' 'star man', who produced his best performance of the term when returning to the starting line-up in the 2-1 win at Rotherham.

His inconsistent performance in the loss to Middlesbrough a week later felt like a step back towards his earlier struggles, however, even despite several attempts at penetration around the Teessiders' box.

That will be a worry with Byram expected to return the other side of the World Cup break, and improving on a patchy first half of the season will be the focus for the ex-Luton Town academy man.

Comparing the statistics between this campaign and his last in the Championship illustrate this requirement perfectly. He's seen a decrease in shots on target (0.52 v 0.36), clearances (1.95 v 1.53) and passes to the penalty area (3.17 v 2.66) per 90, as well as dribble success (56.8pc v 52.9pc), between the 2020-21 and 2022-23 seasons. 

That's why links between Aarons and the likes of Manchester United feel tenuous at present. Where once the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund had courted the young prospect, he now faces a fight to start for play-off-occupying Norwich.

There was a time when City fans were desperate for the noise around their young prospect to die down, but if its return comes as a result of the revival of his previous form, very few of a yellow and green persuasion will be complaining.