Paddy Davitt: Farke, Buendia, Cantwell and a game of high stakes poker
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
This now ends one of two ways. Either Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia leave Norwich City or stung by Daniel Farke’s embarrassing dressing down they come back onside.
It really is as simple as that. Cut through the noise, rumours of bids (there have not been any as of Monday morning) and all the social media meltdown from their Bournemouth omissions.
Farke has raised the stakes.
Buendia’s absence from his Cherries’ plan could have been couched in the same injury-related bulletin that accompanied why he did not feature the previous weekend against Preston. Likewise, Cantwell. But the Canaries’ head coach opted to be searingly honest and brutal in his post-match barbs on Sunday.
He questioned the professionalism of both. He also firmly tilted the dial in the direction of Cantwell, Buendia and whatever representatives they have advising them working towards whatever end game they desire.
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Leeds have not bid for Cantwell.
He may well be a player of interest but it would appear, on Monday morning at least, Bayern Munich’s highly-rated attacking midfielder Michaël Cuisance is the top priority. Buendia was similarly linked to Leeds at the start of this infernal transfer window. That trail went swiftly cold.
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But those recent comments attributed to him in an interview not sanctioned by his club should be seen through a simple filter. Not of a player who expects to be at Carrow Road beyond next month’s deadline but of one who needs to have his name front and centre, should any potential interested parties wonder why he had dropped off the transfer radar.
This is a murky business and Farke is sick of it.
He has reached the stage he would rather field a Norwich side shorn of arguably his best available creative options to put a team on the park committed to the ‘yellow shirt’.
That is a sad indictment on all parties concerned. Cantwell and Buendia are two very talented operators but if the focus is not right, if they have others whispering sweet nothings there is a Premier League move to be had, then in the modern day this is an entirely predictable episode.
Cantwell had a superb breakthrough in the top flight but with that comes headlines, gushing praise and the raising of a profile which increasingly appears to have altered his relationship with the club who raised him. What other conclusion can be drawn when the sporting director is calling him out for his very public show of dejection in that lonely pitchside act, when relegation was effectively sealed against Brighton?
The inference was Cantwell cared more about his own personal image than the team. Another stinging aside which prompted a robust right of reply on the young man’s social media in the aftermath. The mood music on the club’s pre-season tour was no less fractious.
The mild-mannered Christoph Zimmermann had a verbal blow up on the pitch with Cantwell during the Darmstadt friendly. There was plenty of other anecdotal evidence to suggest two parties sadly moving in opposite directions.
So be it. But until bids are lodged which meet Norwich’s valuations then both Cantwell and Buendia remain in Norfolk.
The wrong side of Farke, or Stuart Webber for that matter, is a cold, unwelcoming place.
That is another factor that should not be dismissed. If Farke feels his authority is being challenged there is a whole dressing room watching how this plays out. To include either Cantwell or Buendia in his match day squad after a week when they have failed to reach the standards he demands of others on the training pitch would mean leaving out a Jordan Hugill or a Josh Martin or an Adam Idah. With all the attendant fallout that might induce and negative ripples around a squad.
Plenty who have found themselves in such a tight spot are moved on. The difference here compared to a Marley Watkins, Nelson Oliveira or Ben Marshall is the scale of the finances involved to do so. Farke may have questioned their characters but the quality is not in doubt.
If neither’s representatives can put deals in place that are palatable to Norwich over the coming days then it is hard to see how either return to the fold unless the jolt from Farke’s tongue-lashing has the desired effect.
If Cantwell and Buendia feel, like James Maddison did, they have now outgrown Norwich and Championship football then all stakeholders need to find an agreeable solution. Max Aarons would be well within his rights to have declared himself too frazzled to think about Bournemouth when Barcelona came acalling.
But he played on Sunday and his head coach continues to stress how maturely he has handled a whole different level of transfer madness this summer.
Worth stressing too even in the midst of his Bournemouth bashing there was still paternal affection from Farke. Cantwell is a player he loves, Buendia is a gem who when focused is a stand out at this level.
Go back just a week or so and Farke was hailing his attitude since that Burnley red card.
But if the carrot is not working, then it would appear the City head coach has opted for the stick.
As he memorably said one competitive game into his Norwich tenure in 2017 following Oliveira’s public show of dissent.
It is the name on the front of the shirt, not the name on the back that matters.