Happiness and education behind Buendia's impressive form at Norwich
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Emi Buendia's approach to football is designed to evoke joy - not just from the terraces but also amongst his teammates.
There is a natural aesthetic to his footballing craft that is so joyful to watch, he is one of those players that is capable of connecting you to your first sense of love for the game.
Buendia can be a frustrating presence to consume when his risky pass doesn't connect or he elects to overplay instead of pulling the trigger. However, that is also intrinsic to those moments of magic.
That innate natural ability and willingness to assist over scoring led to a low goal return in the Premier League, so Buendia has sought to improve after Daniel Farke made his desire for a higher output from the 24-year-old clear prior to the season.
"I always liked playing behind the striker, like the link, organising the play and linking the middle with three quarters to be able to score the goal," he explains.
"Throughout my training in Spain and at a professional level, I was more decisive as a creator than as a scorer, despite the fact that in the season I played in Leonesa I scored six goals and in my first with Norwich, I scored eight. For a midfielder it's fine.
"The only year in which it cost me the goal was the one I played in the Premier League, I did not enter the box although I shot from range. But I really enjoy the last pass. As was once said, assists makes two happy, the one who makes it and the one who scores the goal. I really like to assist and in Norwich, I made a special connection with Teemu Pukki, our forward.
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"We did a lot together, many times with me assisting him. I really enjoy this partnership, we know each other very well on the field and he knows that when I receive it I will try to find him. Without looking at him, I play the pass because I know he is going to be there to score the goal."
Buendia was lauded for his creative output in the top flight. His metrics for chance creation were high but his goal return was only one. The view amongst many recruitment teams last summer was that his goal return simply didn't justify the fee City were demanding.
Reflecting on that debut season in the Premier League, Buendia feels he learned a lot from the brutality of the league and competing against world-class opponents virtually every matchday.
"My debut in the Premier was at Anfield, against Liverpool who had just won the Champions League," he said. "It was spectacular, they were celebrating the European title. They are respected on the court, but don't think that you have (Sadio) Mané, (Mo) Salah or (Roberto) Firmino in front of you. You start playing and that's it.
"But the quality of the rivals amazes you. We came from playing in the second tier and in the first game we were the visiting European champion. But, from the inside, I really enjoyed it. Despite the relegation, I experienced that year as very positive.
"I played a lot and was important within the team, I felt confident, I had good performances and good statistics because it was my first season. It was a spectacular learning curve."
This Championship campaign has been turbulent for Buendia. Speculation led to unrest in the summer before a resurgence in form has seen him become a major protagonist in the Canaries' push up the table.
Farke will be hoping January links to Arsenal won't faze his creator in chief, who has been reflecting upon his first three years at the club.
"My three seasons in England have been very positive," City's creative midfielder told Argentina based outlet La Captial.
"In the first, I was able to quickly adapt to a different league and country. I went with the best expectations, but that first year I surpassed them by far. Getting to the Premier League represented a step to a very different level because the teams and players I faced were so much better.
"Personally, I think I had a good year. I don't know if it was the best one because the previous season had been very good, with many goals and assists. In my Premier League year my main problem was almost not scoring goals.
"I scored one in more than 30 games. Although by style I am more of a player who seeks to make the last pass before finishing the play. But, in phases of the season, I had passages of very good football. I felt good and for me, it was a very good experience."