Connor Southwell: What Buendia exit means for City this summer
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Emi Buendia is a football player capable of evoking emotion and joy, that is why there is so much feeling surrounding his pending Norwich City exit.
As a supporter, it’s natural to grow fond of those creative talents who seem to possess a magic wand capable of producing match-winning moments regularly.
As ABBA sang so succinctly, ‘breaking up is never easy, I know’ and City fans have become used to witnessing their best talent exit stage left.
No matter how often that void gets filled or whatever the circumstances surrounding the departure, that experience doesn’t get easier.
This is different to the sales of Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis and James Maddison because Norwich City are on the up this time.
The aforementioned trio all left after relegation or, in Maddison’s case, mid-table mediocrity. This wasn’t the case with Buendia. He leaves after the best second-tier season in the club’s history.
That becomes difficult to digest as a fan, one who wants to see their team win football matches and progress.
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It proves that the Canaries’ model isn’t dependant on league position or winning titles but individual circumstance.
Buendia didn’t arrive at Carrow Road hellbent on fulfilling a lifelong dream of playing for the club that he’s held dear since being a youngster on the streets of Mar del Plata. This was a move purely designed to elevate his career and get him up the ladder.
Whilst to some Aston Villa may not represent the seismic step some feel, the fact they are capable of splashing £33million on a player indicates they rank higher on the football food chain than City at present.
Everyone of a yellow and green persuasion is aware of the club’s model, but rejecting a move can have a domino effect within the squad. It can disrupt harmony. Suddenly Max Aarons or Todd Cantwell is wondering if the same door gets slammed on their face.
Nobody is privy to the conversations Stuart Webber may have had with Buendia after a few toys began to be thrown out of the pram. There may have been a verbal agreement to pull him back on board.
His brilliance in the Championship has shown he is far above that level. Villa are a club with ambitions of breaking into English football’s elite. This is merely another step on the ladder.
Let’s not sugarcoat it. This is Webber’s biggest decision since arriving at Carrow Road.
Norwich have decided to sell their best player before a season where they are hoping to survive in the Premier League.
Externally and, to some internally, that looks like madness. But it boils down to a simple mathematical equation.
Despite echoing that City aren’t in a position where they need to sell as a necessity, a line that was also was uttered prior to Maddison’s Leicester departure, the difference in spending was stark.
Without selling one of their assets, Norwich would have been able to sign around £15m worth of fresh talent. That figure will be doubled as a result of Buendia’s departure.
So, in the end, Webber was faced with a maths problem. Do you keep one player of excellent ability in the hope that he can keep you up or cash in and look to collectively improve the squad?
When it’s put like that, you can understand, even if you don’t agree with, the logic.
That is why City may not decide to replace Buendia with a like for like replacement. They may well opt to make the core of the squad stronger, taller and heavier to compete with the rigours of the top-flight.
After the club opted to cash in on Josh Murphy and outcasted Nelson Oliveira prior to the 2018/19 season, thus removing the vast majority of their goals from the side. They signed Teemu Pukki and Buendia and then romped to the Championship title.
Since, they sold Godfrey and signed Ben Gibson. Lewis left and Dimitris Giannoulis was brought in.
If anybody deserves a chance to shape the squad, it is Webber and this recruitment team.
Despite his talent and innate ability, Buendia was still apart of a side that managed to attain just 21 points in the Premier League last time around. In the back of everyone’s mind is just how wrong they got the recruitment. The mistakes they made. The pain they felt. The war Farke was sent to without a gun.
More resource opens more possibilities. Norwich will break their transfer record for the right player this summer. Probably on multiple occasions.
That said, it’s okay to feel disappointed and angry. You can do so and still understand the way the club operates. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
Buendia was fundamental to the way City played. Pukki benefitted because of him and the statistics comparing when he was and wasn’t in the side were, frankly, frightening.
It’s a bold decision.
Only time will team if this decision proves to be worthwhile, and maybe one that City fans are forced to reserve judgement on until the end of the window.