Award nod is just the start as summer signing really starts to shine for Canaries
Following a first award nomination for Norwich City starlet Emi Buendia, Canaries correspondent David Freezer analyses the impressive progress of the summer signing as a Championship performer so far this season.
It may still be early days in English football for Emi Buendia but Norwich City’s scouting network looks to have unearthed a potentially valuable gem.
The youngster was battling against relegation with Cultural Leonesa in the Spanish second tier last season, while on loan from la Liga club Getafe, but that didn’t prevent the Canaries spotting his potential.
This week the Argentine attacker was nominated for the Professional Footballers’ Association Fans’ Player of the Month award for the Championship in November, which has been put to a public vote in recent days.
For a former Argentina Under-20 international who was once in the youth ranks at Real Madrid it may not be too much of a big deal – but for City it’s a stamp of approval for another of the club’s young talents.
Buendia only turns 22 on Christmas Day and was signed from Getafe in a deal reportedly worth around £1.5million. We may not have quite reached the midway point of the season yet but that is already looking a steal.
The youngster is up against Canaries team-mate Teemu Pukki for the award – who scored five goals in four games – as well as Aston Villa duo Tammy Abraham and Alan Hutton, Nottingham Forest star Joe Lolley and Leeds playmaker Pablo Hernandez.
City fans don’t need an award to tell them how promising Buendia’s performances have been in recent months though and one moment during Saturday’s hard-fought home win over a stubborn Rotherham summed up why.
As with the majority of Daniel Farke’s players during the first half of that battle, Buendia was cutting a very frustrated figure at Carrow Road, throwing his arms around and having a bit of a strop with the Millers leading 1-0.
On the third occasion of venting his fury at not getting what he viewed as a foul, effectively downing tools for a second as he lost concentration with Rotherham in possession in the City half, the home supporters roared at him to keep going.
It left Buendia in no doubt that style was not welcome, doing Farke’s job for him with just under 15 minutes until half-time. He responded immediately though.
The summer signing snapped back into action and slammed into a tackle on Joe Newell, cleanly taking the ball and leaving his opponent for dust before striding forward. The through-ball to Pukki which followed just had too much on it but the challenge was greeted with an even louder roar of appreciation from the Carrow Road faithful.
That’s the sort of fighting spirit and dogged determination the Argentine has shown ever since making his belated pre-season debut in a 3-1 win at League One side Luton in July, showing the physicality of the English second tier was going to be no problem for an ambitious South American as he charged into tackles.
That belated bow was due to Leonesa’s unsuccessful relegation battle coming to an end in early June, a month after City’s campaign has drawn to a close. The 11 assists and seven goals contributed during 42 games along the way had been enough for sporting director Stuart Webber to bring Buendia to England though.
After just one brief appearance as a substitute in the opening six games of this season, it was the 3-1 defeat of Premier League side Cardiff in the Carabao Cup second round at the end of August which saw Buendia really announce his arrival, setting up two of City’s goals.
Buendia has started 14 of the 15 league games which have followed that impressive evening.
The skilful starlet already has eight assists – five of which were in the cup – and three goals to his name, in 19 matches.
The stats boffins at WhoScored.com currently rate Buendia as City’s highest performer so far this season, using their own metrics of ratings players.
The website rates his average performance level as 7.27 out of 10, just ahead of Timm Klose on 7.19 and Moritz Leitner on 7.13 – placing the attacker 14th overall in the Championship in their rankings.
For Canaries fans the love affair really began with one deft flick of a lofted Timm Klose pass though, in the 34th minute of the 1-0 home success against Brentford in late October.
Buendia showed the kind of control that Argentina superstar Lionel Messi would have been happy with as he scored his first Carrow Road goal.
Award wins or not, the exciting thing for City fans with a player already contracted to the Canaries until 2022, is that there’s so much more to come from a player with the talent to go on and have a top-level career.
• You can vote above for Pukki or Buendia for the PFA award above, with voting open until 8am on Wednesday