In Focus: Why Villa splashed the cash on Buendia
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Matthew Storey
Emi Buendia will look to shine after swapping Norwich for Aston Villa
Emi Buendia will look to shine after swapping Norwich for Aston Villa

Emi Buendia is ready to take the Premier League by storm with Aston Villa.

Having guided Norwich to a second Championship title in three seasons, Buendia opted to trade Carrow Road for Villa Park.

And after impressing in his solitary top-flight campaign in 2019-20, when the Canaries were relegated, the Argentine is preparing to star at the right end end of the table.

So what will the 24-year-old winger bring to Villa?

Starring role

Buendia quickly established himself as Norwich's prized asset after arriving in East Anglia as a relative unknown three years ago. 

Since his debut in a 2-0 win over Preston in August 2018, no player in English football has notched more than his 36 assists.

Just behind him are the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

Emi Buendia terrorised Championship defences all season long
Emi Buendia terrorised Championship defences all season long

Buendia also became the first Championship player this century to score 15 goals and provide 15 assists in fewer than 40 games last term. 

That will come as no surprise to the Norwich fans who watched him weave his magic, while his fiery nature also went down well with the Carrow Road faithful.

But with four red cards in three seasons to his name, Villa boss Dean Smith will be keen for the Argentine to control his temper.

Villa's plans

Even though Norwich always appeared destined to earn promotion, there was an expectation that Buendia would be on the move this summer.

Despite Arsenal having two bids turned down, the man himself was keen to pull on the claret and blue Villa shirt. 

And the Villans did not sign him as a replacement for Jack Grealish — they want the two to line up together.

When they were at their best last season, Villa had Grealish on the left, Ross Barkley in the middle, one of Anwar El Ghazi or Bertrand Traore on the right and Ollie Watkins up front.

Despite spending most of his time at Norwich drifting in from the left, it seems Buendia will replace Barkley, who suffered a loss of form in the second half of his loan from Chelsea.

Buendia is a better player than the Englishman — technically superior and capable of producing moments of magic that unlock the defence without a moment’s notice. 

After securing his signature, Smith said: "Emiliano has just completed an outstanding season in a Championship-winning Norwich side with 31 combined goals and assists and was named Player of the Season across the league.

"He is equally capable as a wide attacker or as a No10 and is a great addition to our attacking options. 

"We are delighted to have made such an exciting signing so early in the summer and look forward to Emi joining up with us for a full pre-season."

Emi Buendia fires in one of his 15 Championship goals from the 2020-21 campaign
Emi Buendia fires in one of his 15 Championship goals from the 2020-21 campaign

Coping without Jack

Grealish started 24 of Villa’s 38 games last term, missing 12 with a shin injury and then coming off the bench twice before returning to full fitness.

They won 13 of the games he did start and just three of the 14 he did not.

So one of the crucial improvements Villa need to make is learning to win without their talismanic captain.

Buendia is one of the key cogs in a squad Smith is building to do just that.

The Argentine must quickly build relationships with John McGinn and Douglas Luiz behind him and Watkins in front of him.

Having been a popular figure in the Norwich dressing room, laying on two goals for Watkins as Villa beat Walsall 4-0 in one of their opening pre-season friendlies will certainly go down well with his new team-mates.

And his link-up play with Teemu Pukki over the past three seasons suggests forging such partnerships will not be an issue.

Buendia set up 15 of the Finnish star’s goals in his time at Carrow Road.

Still looking for more

Emi Buendia and Matty Cash will likely be joined by more new signings at Aston Villa
Emi Buendia and Matty Cash will likely be joined by more new signings at Aston Villa

Villa’s season of promise eventually saw them finish 11th in the Premier League in 2020-21. 

They do not want to suffer a blip in the second half of the season again this time around, so Buendia will not be the only attacking signing this summer.

Villa have already had bids for Arsenal youngster Emile Smith Rowe turned down and he now looks set to stay in North London. 

But Smith wants to add a No10 to his squad to complement Buendia, Watkins and hopefully Grealish, who is a target for champions Manchester City. 

That would allow Buendia to drift out to the flank and impact games in the same way he did for Norwich.

It would also mean another player for opposition defences to get their heads around, freeing up more space for the promising star in the process.

Putting him in an ambitious Premier League side suggests the best could be yet to come for the man from Mar del Plata.


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