With the rumour so strong, that Aston Villa are set to sign Norwich City star Emi Buendia, I decided to ask the tip top man at the helm of Vital Norwich, Tuckster, his opinion
Never easy to do, when you are losing your favourite player, but as usual, Tuckster has obliged.
Forum thread: Emi Buendia thread….
So, it looks like Villa are buying Emi Buendia from my team, Norwich City.
My old mate, JP Fear asked me for some thoughts on what the Villans will be getting for their rumoured £35-40m outlay.
Losing Buendia is going to be horrible for the Canary nation. He is quite simply an awesome footballer. He was plucked from Getafe for an initial £1.5m fee as a replacement for Leicester bound James Maddison, who at that time was the outstanding player in our squad. Despite Maddison’s brilliance in Daniel Farke’s first Championship season, he had to be sold to keep the club afloat and Emi came in as his unknown successor.
Right from the off, it was clear he had magic in his boots and some of the attacking football he played in our unexpected title winning season of 2018/19 was sublime. He developed a near telepathic understanding with Teemu Pukki and that pair became a devastating double act.
In the Premier League in 2019/20, City struggled with only one fit centre back (Ben Godfrey) for three quarters of the season and without adequate steel in the side in midfield, we shipped goals at a rate of knots that Pukki and Buendia couldn’t keep up with. Emi only scored one goal in that wretched season before seeming to throw his toys out of the Pram, along with Todd Cantwell, at the start of last season back in the Championship. Farke and Stuart Webber sat them both down and talked them round and both then knuckled down to help Norwich produce another title winning season.
So what will Emi do for Villa?
Well, I would say (this is a big claim) that Buendia is a better player than James Maddison at this time. Maddison is an excellent number 10, who scores cracking goals, free kicks and provides assists by the hatful. Buendia does nearly all of that, although his set-pieces aren’t at Maddison’s level, with added work-rate and steel. The boy loves a tackle and he will track back all game long to win the ball back.
His technical ability, coupled with his low centre of gravity, vision and strength, made him unplayable at times in the Championship for Norwich, leaving opponents no choice but to kick him to try to wind him up and stop him. He has a stereotypical “Latin” temperament and that has seen him shown a few red cards in the past. This last season though has seen him mature on that front, often just getting up and trotting away, like Lionel Messi does in the same sorts of situations, he just gets on with it now.
I’ll be honest in that I am slightly disappointed that he’s going to Villa at this time because I think he could easily fit into any team that qualified for Europe last season and the boy deserves to play on that stage. Having said that, I am under no illusions that Villa aren’t a big club, bigger than Norwich, on the way up again. You have ambitious, wealthy owners and I’m guessing that the project involves European qualification in the next season or so, followed by title challenges after that. I don’t expect to see the Villans scrapping to avoid relegation again. This all costs a lot of money and the players required aren’t easy to buy cheaply and that’s why I think Villa are swooping for Emi now. His potential is huge and getting him “relatively cheaply” now is a wise move.
Are there any downsides to the player?
As I mentioned, he isn’t consistent at free kicks and his stature means he’s not winning every header in midfield but he is brilliant at just about everything else. Norwich selling Buendia is necessary for the way the club is run. We don’t have rich owners and we are the Premier League’s only self-funded club so this is our business model, buying young, good prospects and hopefully developing them into superstars to sell-on for big money. Our academy is full of great prospects and the path taken by Ben Godfrey, Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis and Todd Cantwell has shown that Farke will play young players if they are good enough. He’ll give them a chance that they wouldn’t perhaps get at bigger clubs.
Emi Buendia is already a great player but he has the potential to become world class. His recent call-up to the Argentina squad, after a season in England’s second tier says it all, I think.
As the Norwich song goes “He’s five foot seven, of football heaven, please don’t take my Emi away…”
We also have this excellent podcast from a Norwich City fan, who waxes lyrical about the player and is respectful towards Villa!