City report card: Buendia’s parting shot
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
An intoxicating mix of joyous grace and petulant flourishes. Emi Buendia has left his mark on Norwich City if he moves on this summer. Paddy Davitt looks back and assesses what next for the talented midfielder.
Oh Emi. If it is to be your swansong what a sad, abiding image to leave Norwich City fans with in that red card rush of blood against Burnley.
But the moment you feared it might be Buendia’s last public outing in the yellow shirt was when he reiterated how happy he was at Carrow Road, shortly after relegation had been sealed.
The cynic might point to a calculated effort to be quick out of the blocks and visible in the foothills of those early transfer window manoeuvres.
Buendia, or his advisors, do not need to amplify his considerable talents.
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The 23-year-old may not be the finished article but there is so much raw material and time on his side to prove an excellent addition to any progressive Premier League outfit.
The Leeds transfer link is an obvious one, given his compatriot Marcelo Bielsa has now led the Whites back to the top table.
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But even after a Premier League season where Daniel Farke sought to publicly chide the Argentinian for his lack of goal output, or those high profile errors in possession against Aston Villa and Watford, Buendia might reasonably expect to attract interest from the established order.
That Watford return fixture, late on in the Project Restart phase at an empty Vicarage Road, brought his landmark Premier League goal.
Too little, too late for all concerned but even in that historic act, the instinctive drag back and then unerringly accurate curling finish, you were reminded again of the magic this man possesses.
If his productivity levels were nowhere near a defining role in City’s Championship title surge of the previous season then leeway must be sought.
This was a young man originally recruited from a club who had just tumbled into the Spanish third tier.
His rate of progression, the way he adapted to the unique demands of the English game and, in particular the grind of the Championship, serve to underscore Norwich have a special talent indeed.
But that Burnley red card, after reacting to provocation from Ashley Westwood, also highlighted he remains a work in progress; especially in regard to his fiery temperament.
Perhaps the two Premier League tussles with Wolves act as a counterpoint.
The genius of Buendia, and all his latent creative potential, arguably reached it’s peak last season in the home league game. A match City would still lose but the maestro lit up with a dazzling array of flicks and passing motions that delighted those lucky enough to be in attendance at Carrow Road.
It was a display without the goal or the assist or even the result it merited.
Yet at Molineux in the return later in the campaign, in a sorry 3-0 away defeat, or even a goalless affair at Newcastle, we also saw the petulance in two cameos from the substitutes’ bench.
You might possibly mitigate such actions as a burning desire to showcase his class from the very start of every game. But the accompanying quick step straight down the tunnel at the final whistle of both those matches, without acknowledging friend or foe alike, did little to convince observers the attacking midfielder has fully matured.
Buendia may well feel he has outgrown another tour of the Championship.
Perhaps even Norwich City for that matter.
If it is to be a Premier League farewell then it should be an amicable parting. The marriage has served its purpose. City will have cashed in with a handsome dividend on the initial seven figure sum they paid Getafe, topped up by a £4.5m promotion bonus.
The young man will get another chance to prove he is able to make the same career leap he managed so seamlessly when he first arrived at Carrow Road as an unheralded import from Spain.
Now everyone knows Emi Buendia.
An intoxicating mix of wonderful balletic movement and petulant flourishes. Bring the latter under control and he has many more good days ahead. Alas, it would appear not in the yellow of Norwich City.