Shropshire Star

Emi Buendia: Get the inside track on Aston Villa's club-record signing

Emi Buendia is set to join Aston Villa in a club-record deal from Norwich City, get to know more about the Argentine here.

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We spoke with Stuart Hodge, Norwich City specialist pundit and commentator, to get a proper look at Villa's new man.

See what he had to say here.

First of all, what kind of player are Aston Villa getting in Emi Buendia?

You're getting someone who is a joy to watch, and who also cares a lot and wears his heart on his sleeve. He's a gifted technician, imaginative, flamboyant, capable of raising an entire stadium to his feet when he gets the ball such is his gift for finding gaps in the opposition backline.

He is the best player I've seen play for Norwich City. He is absolutely brilliant and will be sorely missed, not to mention nigh-on impossible to replace.

Norwich City's Emi Buendia celebrates

What are Buendia's big strengths and weaknesses in your opinion?

His natural strengths are his technical ability and vision. The combination of the two makes him an outrageously good passer, capable of splitting a defence in an instant. Look at his 'key passes' and 'chances created' stats during his time at Norwich – outrageous.

The main question mark was over his temperament and the red card record is a bit of a worry. However, towards the end of last season, something clicked and he just seemed to get that in check. And, although not a natural finisher, that's another facet of his game which has seen an excellent improvement as his goal return last year attests to. (15 goals and 17 assists in 39 games last season).

I also think his conditioning could improve a bit, that's the only thing stopping him playing for one of the global elite, but I think he can get to that level.

The Canaries never saw the best of him in the Premier League for a myriad of reasons, I believe Villa will.

Who would you compare him to in world or Premier League football, and why?

Any playmaking winger who likes to drift inside. Villa already have one of those in Jack Grealish who I would say is a slightly better ball-carrier, whereas maybe Buendia is even better when it comes to the ability to break open a defence with a single ball. The prospect of them on either flank is tantalising!

Emi Buendia.

It's a club-record fee for Villa, do you think the price is about right for everyone involved, if not, why?

I thought Norwich could have held out for more, but perhaps the COVID-affected market has had a role to play here. There is less money floating around in football and teams are less willing to spend. The fact Villa have dished out a club record fee shows just how keen they were to land him.

It's fantastic business and makes Villa a shoo-in for the top 10 for me now, barring some sort of big injury. They are not far off being in the Leicester or Everton bracket of clubs, who can mix it up with the top six based on the squad the Villans have right now.

I do know from a few conversations I've had with people at the club that Norwich are very happy with the return and that there are some 'high' clauses built into the deal, which is obviously good for a club of Norwich's stature. I do believe that pre-COVID he would have gone for around £50million though.

Villa are set in a 4-3-3 formation, where do you suspect Buendia will fit in under Dean Smith?

He will play on the right, as he has done throughout his time at Norwich. But he will drift into the middle plenty and that's where he can be absolutely lethal.

What's Buendia's injury record like? Is he on the treatment table often?

Suspensions were the main issue, and that seems to have abated. No serious injury concerns or anything recurring. Given how excellent a footballer he is, I hope that stays the same.

Buendia adds to Villa's ranks going forward with Grealish, Watkins and Traore impressing last season - how do you think the club and player will fare next term?

I expect him to absolutely fly. And if Villa have him and Grealish on either flank there is no excuse not to finish in the top half of the table. Anything else would be underperforming. Villa have some decent players near the front of the pitch, and Buendía is as good as Grealish for me.

Big words I know, but I expect him to deliver on that in the season ahead. Nobody is touching Jack's fan favourite status for obvious reasons, but Emi will soon win the hearts of the Villa Park faithful, of that I am sure.

Stuart Hodge is a TV commentator and Norwich City specialist pundit. He operates across social media as 'Hodgeythehack' and you can find him on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.