'Left with little option' - City chief explains Buendia sale as Villa move is sealed
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Sporting director Stuart Webber says Norwich City were 'left with little option' but to sell Emi Buendia after the Argentine ace made it clear he wanted to join Aston Villa - but has focused on the positives.
Canaries fans have been waiting for confirmation of the club-record sale since the deal being agreed was confirmed by City in a statement on Monday, with the deal confirmed this evening.
Although it's announced officially as an undisclosed fee, it's understood Norwich will receive an initial £33million and that the deal could reach £38m if performance-related fees are activated, with a 10 per cent sell-on fee potentially taking the package beyond £40m in the future.
Speaking to City's official website, Webber explained: “Whilst we are disappointed to have lost a fantastic player, we should take a moment to be proud of the journey that both Emi and the club have been on.
“From the moment our club scouts, led by head of recruitment Kieran Scott, identified Emi through to Daniel (Farke) and the staff giving him an opportunity, it has been a memorable journey.
“Emi has been top class since the day he arrived. He has worked incredibly hard and we’re proud that he has developed into both the player and person he is today. I’m sure he will be the first to acknowledge what Daniel and all of the staff have done to help contribute to his success.
“Despite us not wanting Emi to leave, once he made it clear that he wanted to go to Aston Villa, and they reached the level of deal we have got to, we were left with little option."
The Argentine ace spent three years in Norfolk and leaves as the reigning Championship Player of the Season after winning the division for the second time under Daniel Farke's stewardship.
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Signed from Getafe for an initial £1.5m in 2018, the 24-year-old scored 24 goals and assisted 41 during his 121 appearances, with his starring role seeing him voted Player of the Season by City fans in April.
Promotion and the title were followed by the former Real Madrid trainee earning his first Argentina senior call-up, alongside superstars Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, but he wasn't involved in either of the World Cup qualifiers against Chile or Colombia.
Webber continued: “He and his young family will be missed, but he leaves with our blessings, for a club-record fee, one that could reach nearly double our previous record.
“We look forward to watching Emi’s career develop further. He has helped us grow as a club over the last three years, but now that this deal is concluded, and with the benefit of it happening early in the summer, we look forward to progressing our transfer window plans.”
Buendia joins Villa at a time when they are upwardly mobile, with two players in England's squad for the Euros in Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings, with Ollie Watkins also initially selected but not making the final 26.
With very wealthy owners, they were promoted from the Championship in 2019 alongside Norwich, as play-off winners, and scraped to survival in 2020 as City were relegated.
They reportedly spent around £80m that summer, including signing Watkins from Brentford for an initial £28m and Argentine keeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal for around £17m - who was also in the latest Argentina squad and posted a photo on Instagram of him playing pool with Buendia.
Dean Smith's side then kicked on and finished 11th but just 12 points short of the Champions League places and comfortably clear of the rest of the bottom half, finishing 27 points clear of the relegation zone.
The Athletic report that Villa are more than doubling Buendia's wages to £80,000 per week, with his £15,000 weekly wage in the Championship due to have risen to £35,000 after promotion to the Premier League.
The Villans also describe the deal as a club-record fee, with a five-year contract signed after a medical was completed on Wednesday.
Speaking to his club's website, Villa boss Smith said: “Emiliano has just completed an outstanding season in a championship-winning Norwich side with 31 combined goals and assists and was named player of the season across the league.
“He is equally capable as a wide attacker or as a number 10 and is a great addition to our attacking options. We are delighted to have made such an exciting signing so early in the summer and look forward to Emi joining up with us for a full pre-season.”
Although Norwich initially paid Getafe £1.5m that deal is understood to have risen to around £5m after promotion in 2019, when City bought out the sell-on clause originally negotiated.