The Oxford dictionary description for the word ‘priceless’ is ‘something extremely valuable or important’.
A good example would be… ‘Priceless – Emi Buendia’s ability and importance to Norwich City’.
The Championship’s player of the season elevated himself to new levels this season as City accelerated to a record points haul and league title. His creative flair was now being complemented by a new ruthless streak in front of goal, an element arguably missing from his game in the previous two seasons.
Creative magic, defensive steel and now a sharp shooter – the complete package.
Of course, this has not gone unnoticed. While we all are happy to see Emi receive the plaudits for his performances, it goes without saying that others were watching out midfield magician’s progress with some interest.
Both home and abroad his stats will have been gaining more and more attention. While the domestic market has heard rumblings of Arsenal or Villa being admirers, both of these clubs have question marks over their willingness to meet Norwich’s demands or indeed if they would even be able to deliver on Buendia’s ambition to play Champions League football and cement himself as a starter in his national team..
One potential destination that appears to tick the boxes of Emi’s aspirations is the newly crowned champions of La Liga, Atletico Madrid. A heavyweight of the Spanish division with a world-class stadium, Champions League football, and consistent challengers for the domestic title.
If we dig beyond the obvious draw of playing for a top Spanish side and look at what’s going on in La Liga and the situation with Atletico, the narrative that they could move for Emi becomes all the more compelling.
Just like the EPL, La Liga is blighted by the reckless spending of the biggest sides in the league, whose financial muscle secures a two-horse race in most seasons. Both Barcelona and Real Madrid though now appear to be feeling the heat from, to quote a certain Mr Farke, their sins of their past.
Huge levels of debt will see both having to shift ageing superstars, while incomings will most likely be some of the hotter properties on the free transfer market, such as Sergi Aguero who looks about to join Barcelona. Both clubs had banked on the forsaken European Super League to dig themselves out of a hole of their own creation, but its collapse has seen the reality of their reckless spending finally coming home to roost.
So what does this have to do with Norwich and Buendia?
In Buendia, we know that we have a player who could go on to become a superstar, a world-class talent at the highest level. In Atletico we have a club that is looking to cement themselves as the new team to beat in Spain, stepping out of the shadows of their rivals both within the same city and over in Catalonia.
They also find themselves the strongest of the three financially (although that still amounts to almost a billion in debt) and so could use this summer window as a opportunity to recruit ahead of Barca and Real to try and create some daylight between them before the new season starts.
While it was a championship-winning season, Atletico are certainly far from the finished product and likely need to build on this season’s momentum.
It’s also no surprise that Buendia would likely see the opportunity to work with Atletico and Argentine legend Diego Simeone as an attractive one. Cholo Simeone is up there with the best coaches plying their trade in European football and to work with him would likely give Buendia the fast track to being a regular starter within the Argentine national squad, such is his reputation back in his native country.
It is also reported that Simeone is already aware of Buendia and there have been rumours of his desire to see a three pronged ‘trident of attack’ with Buendia working alongside Felix and Luis Suarez to create a formidable front line.
Although the exact truth of these rumours could be a little wide of the mark, it seems likely that due to Buendia’s nationality and performance levels, Simeone will have been paying attention to his rise, culminating in his recent selection for Argentina. And so Madrid and a return back to sunny Spain could end up being the outcome for our slice of football heaven.
Us Norwich fans are likely to have to endure a summer of links, rumours, and, perhaps, even actual bids from other clubs. I for one though hope that if he does go (and I really hope he doesn’t), that it would be to one of the top sides in Europe.
The money aside for a moment, I think after the pain has subsided we would all be able to watch with pride as Buendia would push on to become one of the best and know that our club had such an important role to play in that.
Please don’t take my Emi away, but if you must, make him the superstar we know he can be.