England’s second tier is a strange place that throws up all kinds of shocks on a weekly basis and numerous players of an international calibre have struggled to adapt to its unique rhythm.

Though some sink, others become stuck in the Dwight Gayle paradox where they become unable to thrive anywhere else, such is its bizarre nature.

However, in the event of Buendia, he has turned out to be a player that could harness his caliber in the exceptional environment of the Championship, before showing it on an even more regular basis from the Premier League.

For Buendia, a 22-year-old with limited experience of first team football, becoming a regular at Norwich has allowed his game to move to a different level.

While demonstrating evident talent in Spain, the Argentine spent his latest season fighting relegation in the Segunda Division with Cultural Leonesa.

Despite managing six goals from 40 league appearances, he hadn’t done enough to impress parent team Getafe and he was signed by Norwich on a four-year deal in June 2018.

Lots of the under-performing and overpaid players from the previous Premier League campaign were sold, with the German scouring the European market to replace them.

Norwich were also placing a greater emphasis on their childhood prospects, and the season where Buendia emerged also saw Jamal Lewis, Max Aarons and Ben Godfrey fully establish themselves.

The losses of James Maddison to Leicester City and Josh Murphy into Cardiff City were a blow though and Norwich started the season slowly, with Buendia not making his first start until the East Anglian Derby in September.

However, the Argentine then started to set himself and Norwich won 13 of the next 17 Championship matches.

With Farke keen on ownership and Moritz Leitner capable of circulating the ball from his deep midfield role, Buendia saw plenty of the ball and has been encouraged to drive at defenders and use his overlapping full-back.

Following promotion, Farke brought in Patrick Roberts and it was looking like Buendia, Roberts, Todd Cantwell and Hernandez would be fighting for two spots.

But while Roberts and Hernandez have struggled to accommodate, Buendia and Cantwell have flourished and have been two of the club’s most valuable players.

Firstly, he is taking fewer shots this year and has returned no goals in contrast to his eight final season.

He has failed to score from his 29 shots, but he’s a much less frequent shot than both Cantwell and Pukki, on whom the main goal scoring burden has dropped.

Secondly, Buendia is dribbling and generating more often than he did at the Championship.

From 23 appearances, he is averaging 3.4 completed dribbles per 90 and 3 important passes per 90, which ranks him fourth and second respectively across the total Premier League.

He’s also registered seven assists, which joins him for joint-third from the branch.

In general, these statistics speak of a player that hasn’t only managed the measure up, but has also enhanced and taken on more of an important role within the squad.

Watching Norwich, Buendia is so vital in terms of ball development and retention, while his safety in possession has enabled Cantwell to dovetail with him so effectively.

If Buendia could re-find his aim in front of goal, he has only hit the target eight times this season, Norwich still have hope of staying up this season.

Where next?

With relegation a danger of the Canaries, Buendia should definitely be under consideration by many of the Premier League’s elite.

Wilfried Zaha has been rumoured to be of interest to Arsenal, Chelsea, and Everton, but aged 27 and valued at upwards of 60m, Buendia is a much better option.

The Argentine has shown himself to be almost as great a dribbler as Zaha and a better passer and creator.

Meanwhile, he’s four years younger and would cost less.

Buendia might not be as familiar a name to Premier League fans, but given his output since he arrived at Norwich last year there should be little doubt he can measure up once more.


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