Date: 3rd January 2021 at 9:11am
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A goal worthy of winning any game, I’d say, wouldn’t you?

The sublime winning volley from Emi Buendia against Barnsley on Saturday underlined what Norwich have in their squad compared to the rest. They have the standout player in the league.

That’s not just my thoughts either. Kenny McLean was the man who spotted Buendia’s run in the 62nd minute of the game and sent over a pin point cross from near to the half way line into the Barnsley area. As the ball dropped out of the sky, the little Argentinian wizard swivelled and guided a perfect low volley past the Tykes’ keeper, Jack Walton.

Afterwards it was McLean who summed it up perfectly.

The quality he’s got is there in abundance every week,” McLean told the EDP.

“He makes my mind up with the pass because he demands it so much, he doesn’t make runs for the sake of it.

“You see it in the intensity of his runs and the speed of his runs. It’s quite an easy ball to be honest, there’s not much on it and the quality of the finish is just sublime really.”

“I think he’s a standout in this league and he’s showing it more and more now, on a consistent basis, which is going to take him to new levels.

“It’s excellent for us and hopefully he can continue that form.”

That was his seventh goal of the season and he just seems to be getting better and better each week. He is certainly now back to his 2018/19 best, I’d say. His desire to play football is there for all to see and he seemed to be everywhere on the pitch, all of the time, something noted by Jeremy Goss in his iFollow co-commentary during the game.

No sooner was he back defending from a corner than he was playing a defence splitting pass to start the next attack. He literally left nothing out on the Carrow Road pitch against Barnsley and make no mistake, Barnsley are a decent side at this level. Having won 10 of their first 15 games under new coach and Daniel Farke’s friend and coaching ally, Valerien Ismael.

My opinion though is that the teams that get promoted  have that little bit extra, something that helps them to win games on days like these. Tough days against well organised and drilled sides like Barnsley. If a team has a player like Buendia, or Pukki, or Aarons or Skipp, or Cantwell, or Gibson, Hanley or Krul – you can see where I’m going with this, then that will be the difference between a top six finish and a top two finish.

The quality in the City squad is there for all to see and although this might, on paper, look like another narrow win in a close game, the reality is that this is what makes the difference on game day. That ability to open the door and walk through it with an extra bit of quality. I didn’t even mention Mario Vrancic or Marco Stiepermann and their late winning goals this season, either.

The biggest issue, if the media are to be believed, is going to be keeping hold of Buendia in this January transfer window but I’m a little more positive than my son on that score. He came to me on Saturday, telling me that Arsenal had already agreed terms with Buendia on a potential move this month. When I asked him where he’d read that, he told me on Instagram via a report from one of the red tops and that the fee would be £15m.

I sat him down and put him straight on a couple of things.

The first is that Norwich now have a pre-set valuation on their good players and that Buendia would not be leaving “for a song.” James Maddison cost Leicester City £24m two and a half years ago and Ben Godfrey just went to Everton for more than that. I cannot see Buendia leaving for less than Godfrey, can you?

When the inevitable sale happens, and it will because just like Maddison, Buendia is ready for the Premier League full-time, week in, week out at a top club, it will be on Norwich City’s terms. Emi is on a long-term contract (I think he has two and a half years left) and the club, the player (and his agent) know what he is worth.

For any club to come knocking in January for the money expected is going to be difficult and probably desperate by the asking club. Arsenal are mentioned every day in the media gossip columns at the moment but whilst they may admire Buendia, I’m not so sure they even need him at the moment and especially at the top dollar price sure to be asked for him in mid-season, in this form. Norwich will want to keep Emi and ensure he sees us over the line to automatic promotion. If that happens then there will be decisions to be made.

I would be very surprised, but this is football so I wouldn’t be amazed, if City sold him this month without a loan back deal. Or, it could be that a deal is arranged for the summer behind closed doors but he’s not going to be going to join a relegation battle with Big Sam or anyone else at the bottom of the Premier league. He is far too good for that and seems certain to go to a club of at least top ten to top six capabilities and if he did join Arsenal, then perhaps even higher.

Emi Buendia is just 24 years old and he is playing wonderful, top drawer football. He will arguably not reach his peak for another couple of years yet and at his tender age, there is plenty of time left in his career for big money contracts and trophies, not to mention sell-on value for any club who buys him from Norwich plus a City sell-on clause, naturally.

Enjoy him while you can, is my advice, because Emi Buendia is box office.

OTBC

 
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