5 Teams Who Should Consider Norwich Star Man Emiliano Buendia This Summer

Despite finding themselves rock bottom of the Premier League and seven points from safety with just 10 games left to save their season, Norwich fans have had some moments to cherish this year.

Their 3-2 win over champions Manchester City is the obvious ?highlight, but throughout the campaign Canaries supporters have been treated to the sort of open and attacking football not associated with a relegation scrap – perhaps to their detriment at times.

Key to their style of play are midfielders Todd Cantwell and Emi Buendia, with the latter in particular likely to move on if Norwich fail to beat the drop. 

Even if the East Anglian outfit can pull off an astonishing turnaround and keep themselves in the top flight, such is the impact Buendia has had on the Premier League, he could earn himself a big-money move elsewhere. 

With Jack Grealish attracting all sorts of attention, this summer could see a creative midfielder merry-go-round in the transfer window. 

So, who should be looking to secure the signature of the tricky Argentinian?


Leicester City

Brendan Rodgers,James Maddison,Jonny Evans

The Foxes look a safe bet to be playing Champions League football next season. Brendan Rodgers’ side find themselves 10 points clear of fifth place, while Manchester City’s FFP misdemeanours have only strengthened their hold on a Champions League spot.

?Leicester will need to add numbers over the summer in order to cope with the additional demands of European football. The dropped points over the Christmas period demonstrated how Leicester’s relatively small squad struggled to cope with a heavy fixture schedule, which will be a weekly occurrence with Champions League football. 

James Maddison will certainly need someone to share the creative load (if he even stays), and Buendia could follow in the England international’s footsteps by swapping East Anglia for the East Midlands. 

Should Maddison leave, amid Man Utd links, Buendia could even be an adequate replacement – the Argentine is one of only three players to play more ‘key passes’ in the Premier League than Leicester’s number 10 this season. 


Liverpool

Divock Origi,Emiliano Buendia

This signing would be vintage Jurgen Klopp: recruiting a promising player who has already performed well for an average Premier League side, and making them better. Sadio Mane, Virgil Van Djik, Gini Wijnaldum, Andy Robertson and more can all vouch for that.

Adam Lallana and Xherdan Shaqiri both look likely to move away from Anfield in the summer, leaving a hole that Buendia would be capable of filling. His technical ability combined with his energy means the 23-year-old would slot right into Klopps’s all-action pressing style.

However, the? Reds have been linked with a move for Buendia’s teammate Cantwell. Could ?Liverpool raid ?Norwich for both of their attacking midfielders?


Manchester United

Harry Maguire,Emiliano Buendia

?United are favourites to sign at least one of Jack Grealish or James Maddison over the summer, but if they fail to make the Champions League, the young English midfielders could have more tempting offers.

Buendia fits a similar mould to the two named targets, and United could line up the Argentinian as an alternative (cheaper) option should they fail to land their first picks.

Though he doesn’t fit United’s British criteria, the Norwich star is the sort of player United should be looking to recruit. Buendia is not world-class, but he has proven his potential in England and with the right coaching and players around him, he could be something really special.

Unfortunately for Buendia, United currently have an unhelpful recent habit of dealing poorly with talented attacking players from Alexis Sanchez to Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay.


Manchester City

David Silva,Phil Foden

Phil Foden is expected to step into David Silva’s shoes when the Spaniard departs the Etihad this summer. 

However, that leaves a vacancy in a role diligently filled by Foden these past few seasons known as the ‘understudy’. This involves various substitute cameos and Carabao Cup appearances, while Pep Guardiola insists you’re the most talented player he’s coached, apologises for your lack of game time and refuses to send you out loan. 

A move like this could go either way for Buendia, with Riyad Mahrez seeing plenty of game time at the Etihad since his arrival from Leicester. However, the likes of Scott Sinclair, Jack Rodwell and (to a degree) Fabian Delph all faded into obscurity and saw their careers stall at City.

Besides, will Pep Guardiola’s side need such strength in depth next season anyway if their European football ban is upheld?


Barcelona

Lionel Messi

Following some indirect Eric Abidal comments ?and a very direct social media response from a certain someone, I hear Barcelona could be down a diminutive Argentinian this summer…

Sadly for Buendia, ?Messi looks set to stay put. But imagine if Barcelona did opt to replace their talisman with a fella from Norwich. And then signed Grant Hanley for good measure.

Surely ?a better option than Martin Braithwaite.


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Who Is Martin Braithwaite? Everything to Know About Barcelona’s Target to Replace Ousmane Dembele

?So, Barcelona have finally been granted permission by RFEF to sign a new forward outside of the transfer window following Ousmane Dembele’s season-ending injury. 

How are they using this opportunity? To land an ageing world class pro to offer reliable cover for six months? Or a hungry up-and-comer keen to make his mark in the absence of one of the most highly-rated wingers around? 

Martin Braithwaite

Well, no. ?They’re signing Martin Braithwaite, apparently

But who actually is that? Isn’t he the guy who played for ?Middlesbrough a while back and came to absolutely nothing?

Look no further for all you need to know about *double checks notes* Martin Braithwaite. 


Why Is He a Target?

Before we take a deep dive into the nomadic career, let’s establish some context that makes the rumour slightly less weird. The conditions of Barça’s period of grace are as follows; they have 15 days to recruit a forward, and it has to be someone playing their domestic football in Spain or without a club. 

Martin Braithwaite,Aritz Elustondo

Getafe’s Ángel Rodríguez, Alavés’ Lucas Pérez and Real Betis’ Loren Morón have all been mentioned as other potential targets, but the difficulty there is that none of those clubs are particularly keen to let go of the players with no chance of signing an alternative themselves.

Enter Braithwaite, stage left, who you’d have to assume is the best realistically available to the Catalan club. Well, it’s utterly unexplainable otherwise, so we’ll have to go with that.


Who Has He Played For? 

This question has a less simple answer, since the 28-year-old hasn’t half been about.

Coming through the ranks at at Efsbjerg FB in his native Denmark, he began to cultivate a reputation for himself as a fairly consistent goalscorer before being brought to Toulouse in what was a pretty big break for him in 2013. In France, he netted 40 goals in 149 appearances, before Middlesbrough moved to bring him in four years later.

Martin Braithwaite,George Saville

That’s where things briefly began to go a bit haywire, as during a chaotic period in the Championship, he failed to meaningfully insert himself into the team. He was loaned back to Bordeaux after 18 months, and then to Leganes in January 2019, where his five goals and seven assists were enough to convince them to offer Boro £8m of the £10m they paid for him to make it permanent.

The 28-year-old has since proved a solid addition for the relegation strugglers and has netted eight goals in 27 appearances this season. He’d be a major loss for them, and it would be a serious blow in their bid to stay up, but when Barcelona come calling there is only so much you can do. 


What Can He Offer Barcelona? 

Well…a bit of everything. ?WhoScored describe him as having ‘no significant strengths’ which doesn’t look brilliant for a Barcelona signing, granted, but that seems to stem from the fact he’s a bit of a jack of all trades, with no aspects of his game in particular standing out.

Martin Braithwaite

He’s not slow by any means and is efficient on the ball, while deceptively good in the air for his unremarkable 5’11 stature. He’s versatile, primarily featuring as a central striker this season, but is capable on either flank or as a no.10 if required. He could perhaps work harder from a defensive standpoint and isn’t the striker you want leading a high press, but for Barcelona’s possession-based system, he’s perhaps not the worst player to have available. 

If he does end up being signed, he’s good enough to play a part in the bread and butter league games to offer the likes of Antoine Griezmann and ?Lionel Messi some reprieve in European weeks, but not too much more than that, unless Quique Setien sees something we don’t. 


How Much Will He Cost?

About €10m is the consensus in Spain, which is really a drop in the bucket for a club of ?Barcelona‘s financial footing. Uninspiring, perhaps, but at least he’s relatively risk free at that price.


What Else Is There to Know?

At club level, he’s scored 85 goals in 348 games to date – a respectable total, it should be said. That’s roughly mirrored in his international strike rate, as he’s hit the back of the net seven times in his 39 appearances for Denmark.

He’s also apparently a natural leader, which might help the likes of positional rival Ansu Fati through what is set to be an intense second half of the season for Barça.

Martin Braithwaite

Is he going to single-handedly win them ?La Liga? Absolutely not. Is it the worst signing in the world, considering the best ?Manchester United could conjure up on deadline day was Odion Ighalo (and only after ?Josh King fell through)? Also no.

It’s a strange one, but it can’t be any worse than Kevin-Prince Boateng…


For more from Robbie Copeland, follow him on Twitter!

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Barcelona ‘Flatly Denies’ Hiring Company to Troll Own Players & Club Legends Online

?Barcelona have released a statement to deny allegations of contracting a company to create social media posts that attack the reputations of its own stars, legends and those in contention for the club presidency online.

SER Catalunya sensationally reported that Barcelona used the services of I3 Ventures to create posts across various Facebook and Twitter pages that protect the reputation of current president Josep Maria Bartomeu and the current board. 

However, more shockingly, pages – supposedly under I3 Ventures’ control – have also been found to be attacking current players such as Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique, former club greats like Xavi Hernandez and Pep Guardiola and possible future presidential candidates Victor Font and Joan Laporta.

?SER Catalunya claims to have had ‘access’ to two reports prepared by I3 Venture, which detail the ‘impact and evolution’ of six of their accounts, and a specific ‘action plan’ against the possibility of Font running for the club presidency in 2021.

One example post from the account ‘Alter Sports’ – which has 26k Facebook followers – shared by SER shows current ?Manchester City manager Guardiola behind the wheel of a car, with the caption: “this guy has crashed four luxury cars in four years Manchester, Guardiola doesn’t know how to win the ?Champions League or drive without Messi. Guardiola at the wheel, constant danger.”

Other posts criticise defender Pique (often touted as a future club president) for his involvement with the Davis Cup tennis tournament (a frequent hot-button topic) and Messi over his contract renewal. Meanwhile, former stars Xavi and Carles Puyol have also been the subjects of disparaging posts, which appear to seek to generate controversy and foster negative opinion.

Beyond club players, past and present, ex-presidents and possible future rivals for the club’s top job in the next elections such as Font, Joan Laporta and Agustí Benedito have been targeted, along with political organisations such as the Catalan movement Tsunami Democratic. 

It is alleged that ?Barcelona paid just under €1m – ‘divided into six different invoices’ for the services.

Font has called on the board of directors to ‘offer an explanation’ for the ‘extremely worrying’ situation, while Benedito, another touted presidential candidate, has confirmed his intention to take legal action against incumbent Bartomeu.

??Madrid-based ?I3 Ventures has since denied working on Barcelona’s behalf to discredit certain individuals, calling SER’s allegations ‘absolutely false’. They also deny authorship of several pages identified in the report – including ‘Alter Sports’ – while claiming their role is related to ‘tracking and monitoring’ of social and digital channels.

?Barcelona released their own statement, with a five-point response, on Monday afternoon.

It reads: “FC Barcelona flatly denies any relationship and, even more, the contracting of services linked to social network accounts that have spread negative or disparaging messages in relation to any person, entity or organization that has or has had a relationship with the Club. 

“1. It strongly denies any relationship and, even more, the contracting of services linked to social network accounts that have spread negative or disparaging messages in relation to any person, entity or organization that has or has had a relationship with the Club.


“2.- I3 Ventures, provider of the Club, has no link to these accounts and, if any type of relationship is demonstrated, the Club would immediately terminate its contractual relationship and take appropriate legal action in defence of its legitimate interests.

“3.- Likewise, FC Barcelona confirms that it has contracted social network monitoring services in order to be aware of both positive and negative messages, of which the Entity is the object.

“4.- With the hiring of these services, the Club ensures to protect and preserve its reputation, as well as that of those linked to the Club (sponsors, players, managers, partners, peñistas …), to the extent that the protection This reputation is a fundamental element and an indispensable obligation for those who work for the Entity.

“5.- The Club requires the immediate rectification of the information disseminated and reserves the right to take appropriate legal action against those who continue to involve the Club in this type of practice.” 

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Lionel Messi on Longest La Liga Goalscoring Drought for More Than 6 Years

?Having failed to score in his last four La Liga matches, Barcelona forward Lionel Messi is on his longest league drought since January 2014.

The Argentine netted the winner in Quique Setién’s first game – a 1-0 win over Granada midway through January – but has since failed to find the back of the net against Valencia, Levante, Real Betis and Getafe.

Lionel Messi

It’s the kind of dry streak which ?Messi has rarely endured. The last time he went four games without a goal was back in the 2013/14 campaign, in which the attacker failed to score in eight consecutive games between October 2013 and January 2014.

He has gone three matches without scoring several times since, but this is the first time in six years that he has reached four, which speaks volumes of just how ridiculous his goalscoring exploits have been, rather than his poor form in front of goal of late.

You get the sense that Messi won’t really be concerned by that. He has managed 433 goals in 471 ?La Liga games during his career, so one little dry streak probably won’t do too much damage to his legacy.

Lionel Messi,Arturo Vidal

It’s not as if Messi has even been playing badly in these recent games. Like most of his teammates, he was ineffective against Valencia, but he has since bounced back with six assists in his last three games.

Even when he’s not scoring, Messi is the man behind ?Barcelona’s goals. 

He now sits on 19 goals and 16 assists in all competitions this season, and he somehow leads the league in both categories, so the six-time Ballon d’Or winner remains a dominant force in world football.

Lionel Messi,Mauro Arambarri

Nevertheless, you can guarantee he will be eager to get back among the goals himself. Barcelona are second in La Liga, level on points with leaders ?Real Madrid, but are still at a disadvantage as Los Blancos have a game in hand.

Messi’s next chance to end his drought will come on Saturday, when Eibar visit Camp Nou, and he will hope to use that game as a warm-up for Barcelona’s next test – a trip to the Santiago Bernabéu to face Real on Sunday 1 March.


For more from Tom Gott, follow him on Twitter!

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Jordi Alba to Miss Napoli & Real Madrid Matches as Barcelona Confirm Groin Injury

?Barcelona have confirmed Jordi Alba will be out of action for three weeks after the left back picked up an injury against Getafe, with the Spain international set to miss the first leg of the Champions League knockout stages as well as El Clásico.

Alba was forced off the pitch after just 22 minutes against Getafe, where goals from Antoine Griezmann and Sergi Roberto helped Barcelona move level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the La Liga table.

Barcelona have confirmed the 30-year-old picked up a groin strain at Camp Nou and despite not officially naming a recovery period, AS reports Alba will now face at least three weeks on the sidelines.

Antoine Griezmann,Jordi Alba,Lionel Messi

If their diagnosis is accurate then Alba might not return to Barcelona’s first team until after their match against Real Sociedad on March 7, also missing a Champions League knockout stage fixture against Napoli and the trip to face Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabéu.

Barcelona still have Júnior Firpo who can deputise for Alba over the next few weeks, but Juan Miranda’s departure on a two-year loan at the start of the season has left the club short of options to provide cover at left back.

Manager Quique Setién has already been forced to promote players from Barcelona’s youth ranks to provide extra depth, with Ronald Araújo and Rey Manaj featuring on their bench against Getafe on Saturday.

Ansu Fati has been Barcelona’s most high profile academy player to be fast-tracked into the first team this season and the 17-year-old has been able to keep his place in the squad thanks to injuries to the likes of Ousmane Dembélé and Luis Suárez.

Fati will be a key part of their squad once the Champions League knockout stages get underway for Barcelona at the end of the month.


For more from Ben Carter, follow him on Twitter!

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