‘A revelation’ - Argentina boss hugely impressed by City star Buendia
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Argentina manager Lionel Scaloni is confident Emi Buendia can contribute at international level, after being convinced that the midfielder was fulfilling his potential at Norwich City.
The former Deportivo and Lazio full-back, who had a loan spell at West Ham during his playing days, stepped up to take charge of his country having been part of Jorge Sampoli’s coaching staff as the 2018 World Cup in Russia ended with a 4-3 defeat to eventual winners France in the last 16.
Scaloni has been impressed enough by Buendia this season to hand the creative maestro his first senior call-up after being named Championship Player of the Season, scoring 15 goals and assisting 16 as the Canaries became deserved champions.
The former Real Madrid trainee had also claimed eight assists as City sunk to Premier League relegation in 2019-20, boasting some of the division’s best creative statistics despite playing for the team who finished bottom of the table.
“We looked at Emiliano already last year as, although his team did not have a great season, he was highlighted not only in his team but also in the Premier (League) for his assists and this year he was a revelation in the whole league, he was a player that really made a difference,” the Argentina boss said, quoted on the Canaries’ official website.
“In the previous call-ups we did not carry out but we called him up (this time) because of what we are seeing and that he can contribute different things.
“We noticed this year he took a step forward. In his team he was the best and that is what we really needed to know, if he was capable of competing at these levels.
“We have no doubt that he can be an important player, that he can contribute things, that he can play in different positions.
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"We will evaluate him at another day of training, we will get to know him closely, we will see him train and we will make a decision.”
Last season it was only Manchester City and Belgium superstar Kevin De Bruyne who averaged more key passes per 90 minutes (4.4) than Buendia (3), who averaged more than high-profile attacking midfielders including Riyad Mahrez (2.8), James Maddison (2.7) and Jack Grealish (2.5).
The 24-year-old earned three Argentina youth caps at the U20 World Cup in 2015, having initially played twice for Spain at U19 level after making his La Liga breakthrough at Getafe.
He joins up with the senior squad for the first time ahead of World Cup qualifiers at the start of next month, at home to Chile on Friday, June 4 (1am UK time) and in Colombia on Wednesday, June 9 (12am UK time).
The Copa America follows from June 13, on home soil and in Colombia, with that squad yet to be confirmed. The Canaries' Player of the Season is in a squad alongside star names including Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.
The call-up has been followed swiftly by fresh transfer speculation, with Arsenal the latest club said to be interested in City's top asset. Other clubs linked in the past year include Liverpool, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Villarreal and Aston Villa.
The Premier League new boys are believed to value Buendia at around £40million, with sporting director Stuart Webber admitting recently that one of the club's top players could be sold this summer to help fund wider investment in Daniel Farke's squad following promotion.
The man from Mar del Plata has posted videos on Instagram in recent days showing him continuing fitness work in the gym during a holiday in Madrid prior to joining up with his international teammates in Argentina.