'Best thing Chile has produced in years' - expert on City duo

Marcelino Nunez of Norwich celebrates scoring his spot kick with a “Panenka” during the penalty shoo

Marcelino Nunez has made quite the first impression at Norwich City. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Marcelino Nunez and Gabriel Sara are ready-made for the conditions of English football, according to South American football expert Tim Vickery. 

The duo signed for Norwich City this summer after leaving Chile and Brazil respectively, with the aim of progressing their careers further in England. 

Nunez has made a bright early impression since signing for Norwich in a reported £3.3m deal for Chilean champions Universidad Catolica, including scoring a Panenka-style penalty in their 4-2 penalty win over Birmingham.

Sara developed at the Sao Paulo academy and made 112 appearances for the club before signing for the Canaries in a deal that could exceed £10m if various clauses are activated. 

Both signings followed years of extensive work in the continent post-Brexit regulations rule changes that made signings from the region more viable. 

That includes the appointment of permanent scouts in the area and a footballing relationship with Brazilian top-flight side Coritiba.  

Vickery, who covers South American football for a host of national outlets, was discussing the City's newest recruits on TalkSport, starting with an assessment of Nunez. 

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“Marcelino Nunez is probably the best thing Chile has produced in recent years, which unfortunately isn’t saying much," Vickery told the Hawsbee and Baker show on Thursday.

"He’s a right-footed midfielder who is full of thrust. I think he was the big success in the short spell of Gustavo Poyet’s time in charge of Universidad  Catolica.

"You can play him at wing-back as well. I saw some really good displays from him at wing-back because he has that lung power." 

Nunez was thrown into the starting XI against Wigan on Saturday, just three days after finalising his move. That decision is understood to have been made off the back of impressive performances in training. 

There is a confidence that underpins the 22-year-old's game. On Tuesday, he attempted a shot from inside his own half and displayed flashes of technical quality in both games. 

Dean Smith has taken a more cautious with Sara as he continues his recovery back to full fitness and match sharpness. 

The Brazilian has returned from ankle surgery earlier than was initially anticipated and, despite training well for the last 10 days, there is an acceptance that he will take time to get fully up to speed. 

His first outing against Birmingham felt like a game to blow away the cobwebs, although there were plenty of positive flashes in his performance. 

Gabriel Sara of Norwich has a shot on goal during the Carabao Cup First Round match at Carrow Road,

Gabriel Sara made his first Norwich City start against Birmingham City in the Carabao Cup. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Sara played a lofted pass to Jordan Hugill that led to Danel Sinani's opening goal in the game. There was also a real willingness to get beyond the ball in attacking phases of play. 

He flashed one shot in the first half wide of the far post and pressed intelligently in other moments. Sara was withdrawn for Nunez after the hour mark. Given Jacob Sorensen may be required in a left-back role, he could be handed his first league start at Hull this weekend. 

Vickery has revealed that Sara was also referred to in Brazil as a 'Premier League player' and believes that would have been at the forefront of his mind when he made the switch 

“Gabriel Sara is one of those players who has, all the way up, always been called a Premier League player.

"He’s always been seen as somebody who could fit into English football because he’s physically strong on the ball, he’s versatile and can operate a number of positions in midfield," he said. "He has a lovely left foot.

"That has obviously turned his head and his idea will be ‘I’ll go to Norwich’ and either he will get them in the Premier League or do well enough to be picked up by a Premier League club."

Alfie Chang of Birmingham City and Gabriel Sara of Norwich in action during the Carabao Cup First Ro

Gabriel Sara joined Norwich City in a big-money deal from Sao Paulo earlier this summer. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Smith has reiterated on several occasions that he feels both won't require a lengthy period of adaptation. 

That is an assessment that Vickery agrees with, stating that both Nunez and Sara are ready made for the English divisions. 

“You have one left foot and one right foot, and they are English-style midfielders," Vickery said. "It will be interesting to see how they get on with Norwich in the Championship.”