Matt Howman: Is Buendia the next star to fly the Canaries’ nest?
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From second-tier Spanish football to the Premier League in under two years, it has been quite a journey for Emi Buendia.
Arguably Norwich City's outstanding player so far this season, the zero next to his goal tally may be the only major factor keeping rival teams at bay this transfer window.
Despite being in no urgent position to move players on, what Norwich have done incredibly well in the past two seasons is add value onto almost every player signed.
Of course, that perceived increase in value is not realised until a player is sold, however tying young players like Buendia onto long-term contracts puts the club in a much stronger position in any negotiation should another come calling.
When the club sold James Maddison to Leicester for a reported £20m, the timing seemed right to allow the player to push forward his career and for Norwich to raise enough cash to make further additions to the squad. Despite Norwich no longer being in a desperate position to sell, could Buendia be the next City signing to move on to a top six club?
Looking at the statistics across the season, Buendia has been the standout player for Norwich. Teemu Pukki has had an excellent goal scoring return for a bottom-three side, however the assists from Buendia and chances created have been crucial for Pukki to have delivered 11 goals.
Buendia is joint-third in the number of assists this season with seven; has made 1,705 touches this season, only four players outside of the top-four score higher.
Emi has made more passes than any other player in the Norwich squad, and has made the highest number of tackles. A surprising statistic is that he has made more successful tackles than either Alex Tettey and Kenny McLean, or Tettey and Tom Trybull combined. (source: premier league stats)
When you assess Norwich's squad there are a number of players who are showing that they belong at the top level.
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Todd Cantwell has proven this season that he can step up to the challenge, Pukki undoubtedly. Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons will continue to develop into top-level players. With Buendia you could make a case that he could work his way into a top six club in either the Premier League or La Liga.
So, is it right for a player of that quality to stay at Norwich City?
Fans continue to question the ambition of the club based on the board not splashing the cash in the transfer market. It's nonsense.
The club have shown plenty of ambition. Changed the entire structure of the club, invested in the academy, the training ground facilities and brought in players like Buendia for relatively paltry sums compared with what other clubs are spending, even in the Championship.
If City can keep a player like Buendia after this summer, relegation or survival, that is showing ambition that we want to continue to build a team around our best players.
Selling James Maddison was the right move at the time for the club.
He may now be worth twice, three-times what we sold him for, but he would never have reached that valuation had he stayed at Norwich.
Building the squad we needed to be sitting seven or eight points higher than we currently are may have taken another two transfer windows of the club trying to source more Emi Buendias from the lower leagues of Spain and Germany. There's no guarantee those players will adapt to the English leagues like we can only suspect was the case with Marcel Franke and Philip Heise.
Farke can be credited with laying out the tactics and the foundations for a player like Buendia to impact each game in the manner he has, however there are individual moments of brilliance he produces where you have to just sit back and enjoy watching him play for Norwich City.