Groundhog Day (noun): a situation in which a series of unwelcome or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way.
Sound familiar Norwich City fans?
In a weird sort of way there’s a lot to envy about the entertainment the Canaries’ fanbase has been treated to over the last decade or so. There’s nothing quite like the thrill of a promotion race – especially when it doesn’t all end in tears – and five promotions in the last 12 seasons is enough to suggest the average Norfolk resident’s blood pressure must be through the roof.
That being said, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that said record comes hand-in-hand with it’s fair share of relegations.
The Canaries’ previous two jaunts into the Premier League have lasted just one season before they were sent straight back down to the Championship, and so you’d have forgiven Norwich fans for telling the likes of Preston and Nottingham Forest that they’ll ‘see them in a year’ having secured promotion to the top flight this season.
Something needs to change at Carrow Road if the club are to finally escape the shackles of this cycle they’ve found themselves in, but is selling their best player really the answer?
90min recently revealed Arsenal are on the verge of securing the signing of midfield maestro Emi Buendia, with the Gunners set to line Norwich’s pockets with a significant amount of cash.
Buendia has been a tremendous servant to the Canaries since his move from Getafe in 2018 and his 15 goals and 17 assists in last season’s Championship were undoubtedly the driving force behind the club’s promotion.
Norwich’s doomed 2019/20 campaign was the Argentinian’s only season in the Premier League and – as you would expect – his stats were nowhere near as impressive.
It took him until gameweek 34 to score his only league goal of the season, and while seven assists is nothing to be ashamed of in one of Europe’s top leagues, Norwich’s style of play relies so heavily on Buendia’s creativity and eye for goal that if he musters just one league strike again next season, you can almost guarantee they’ll finish in the bottom three.
Then there’s the issue of his focus.
Both Arsenal and Aston Villa have already been credited with an interest in the 24-year-old this summer – with both tabling bids – and Norwich are subsequently resigned to losing their talisman. Were a move fail to materialise it would unquestionably be a huge blow to a player desperate to play for a bigger club.
If Buendia is at Carrow Road next season, can Canaries fans honestly say they’ll see the best of a player who had his heart set on a move away?
The Argentina Under-20 international only once went two games without recording a goal involvement in last season’s Championship season – that’s how incredible he was.
Well, there was one longer barren spell as he went three games without a goal or assist and got himself sent off, a run which came shortly after Arsenal’s January interest came to light funnily enough. Make of that what you will.
We’re not calling Buendia’s professionalism into question, but it’s only human for a player to lose focus when talk of a move to a club like Arsenal begins to circulate. At this point you have to think it’s best for all parties if Norwich let their star man go.
Not only would the sale boost their summer transfer kitty by a significant amount, the club’s transfer team would also have plenty of time left in the market to scout out a replacement – and building a more well-rounded side that doesn’t rely so heavily on one individual would give them a much better shot at survival.
Obviously it’s difficult to look at a club losing their best player as a positive, but Buendia’s departure from Carrow Road may just end up being a blessing in disguise, and Norwich could finally be on their way to clawing themselves out of Groundhog Day.