Bristol boss claims Pukki was offered to ‘every Championship side’ as he tries to repeat City’s transfer success
PUBLISHED: 10:33 22 October 2019 | UPDATED: 12:09 22 October 2019
Bristol City manager Lee Johnson is hoping he can repeat Norwich City’s transfer success of bringing in Teemu Pukki as a free agent – while claiming the Finn was offered to ‘every Championship side’.
The Robins' boss was talking about his recent signing of Spanish striker Rodri, a free agent having left Granada at the end of last season after five goals in 33 games in La Liga 2 during 2018-19.
The campaign before that he was a team-mate of Norwich star Emi Buendia at Cultural Leonesa and the 29-year-old's career has been rather varied, including stints at Sheffield Wednesday, Barcelona B and 1860 Munich.
"You've only got to look at the likes of Pukki, for example, who was literally sent in to every Championship side, I'll show you, about 100 e-mails," Johnson said, who hadn't seen Rodri play live before signing him.
"Obviously he came in and Norwich took a chance on him and he's done unbelievably well for Norwich. Some people would have written Pukki off, considering his past at Celtic and other clubs he's had."
While that is a compliment for City in one way, for taking the supposed gamble on a free agent, it is also something of a suggestion that the recruitment wasn't quite such a masterstroke.
That contradicts previous comments from Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber, who has said that Pukki was one of the strikers under consideration when he was one of the recruitment chiefs at Wolves, before the striker went on to join Celtic in 2013.
Head coach Daniel Farke has also previously spoken about knowing Pukki's potential from having seen him play for Schalke in German football.
While Pukki has also previously suggested he left Brondby of his own accord, after 72 goals in 164 games, as he wanted a new challenge after his successful spell in Danish football.
Either way, Rodri has some serious work to do to match Pukki's remarkable exploits of 29 goals in 43 Championship games last season, spearheading City's title triumph and being named Championship Player of the Season at the EFL Awards.
The Finland international has scored a total of 46 goals in 69 games for club and country since joining Norwich, with his country on the verge of qualification for Euro 2020, which would be their first major tournament.
The Bristol City new boys could make his debut when the Robins take on Charlton on Wednesday - who also reportedly came close to signing former Norwich striker Gary Hooper on a free recently, who has since moved to New Zealand.
"He's looked sharp and I like him," Johnson added, speaking to Bristol Live. "I hadn't seen him live so it's very rare that we would sign someone that I haven't seen live.
"Needs must and what I've now seen of him over the last three or four days, he's my type of player."
Johnson's team are ninth in the Championship after 12 games but lost 3-0 at Luton on Saturday.