How did they do it? Kieran Scott on recruiting Norwich City’s stunning double act
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City’s recruitment ahead of the season, led by Kieran Scott, was a key driver of their Championship title success – none more so than the arrivals of Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki.
Football is often consumed by 'what if'. Fortunately that was the case for everyone else but the Canaries, in terms of their two hottest summer recruits.
The combined value of Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki is significantly higher 12 months on from their arrival in Norfolk as a £1.5m signing from Getafe and free transfer from Brondby respectively - and both will hope to light up the Premier League next season.
It looks simple now, of course. But it's different when you're making the decision without the benefit of hindsight.
"Between Teemu and Emi, the amount of scouts that have since said to me they were close to taking them… Many have; a lot of people have come up to me saying they were going to do the same things - but they never did," smiled Scott.
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The story of Buendia's arrival has already been told: initial reports, video clips and statistical analysis flagging the now 22-year-old to City's recruitment department - headed by Scott - before the physical work began with a trip to his Spanish second tier loan club Leonesa early last season.
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"There were people there but predominantly Spanish clubs," recalled Scott. "When I was there at Leonesa, I never saw an English club.
"I can see why some clubs maybe decided to say no to him. I felt knowing our head coach is very good at getting another 20pc out of players, which he has done all season, I knew our strength and conditioning department would be able to trim him off, I knew our dietary would get him better - I knew everything would.
"I said to Stuart (Webber) I think there's another 25pc in there and I thought we could get that, and we've probably had a little bit more - which is fantastic.
"There was an air of excitement around him straight away because Stuart knows what he's looking for as well.
"We both knew if we didn't move that January to sign him for the summer, it could escalate to the point where there might be more clubs there. So we knew that one needed to be done quick as there was the fear of losing him. The one thing we didn't have was a bucket of money to pay if someone did turn up offering more. We'd have lost.
"Stuart was top drawer, got on a plane and went straight out to (parent club) Getafe, did the deal, no messing around, and I think that move has paid off for everybody.
"Emi needed a bit of time to settle without anybody really knowing who he was. I actually look back now and wonder if the injury he got in pre-season was a good thing - in that first period, he had time to settle, he became a dad as well.
"It just gave him time where people didn't really know what we had, and then once he got going I think we all saw what was coming."
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Adding a golden boot winner to the Canaries squad was quite the coup - and even more satisfying for Scott, given striker recruitment is a different beast altogether.
"The striker list is always the big list and they're the hardest players to sign," said Scott. "They are easy to identify because they are very obviously out there scoring goals, otherwise you wouldn't be interested - but signing them is a completely different process.
"Agents know they have got a player that's stock is high, they are the last to commit, they have 15 clubs that want to sign them."
As for recent suggestions Pukki didn't actually figure on the Canaries' initial summer forward recruitment targets, Scott added: "Teemu wasn't anywhere in particular on our list.
"He was one we really liked, one I particularly had a strong feeling for because when I watched him in his games at Brondby, he found two yards of space - and he was only going to need half a yard of space here to maybe score us 10 goals. And then he's gone and scored almost 30."
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