Could Emiliano Buendia Be The Type of Player to Rejuvenate Arsenal?
Emiliano Buendia has been one of Norwich’s standout performers over the past two seasons. This report will look to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of Buendia and what he could bring to Arsenal.
The 23-year-old, born in Mar Del Plata, Argentina; started his career with Getafe CF making 39 appearances between 2014 and 2017. In this time, Buendia scored 3 goals and assisted 1. In the 2017/2018 season, Buendia had a loan spell with CYD Leonesa, in Spain’s second tier. Buendia made 42 appearances, scoring 7 goals and assisting a further 12. That season brought him to the attention of many clubs, including Norwich. Norwich paid £1.35 million for the Argentine and instantly brought themselves a fan favourite. In 71 appearances for Norwich, 28 of which have come in the Premier League, Buendia has scored 8 and assisted 24. A remarkable return for a player who cost so little. This season, Buendia’s first in the Premier League, has seen him play 2015 minutes, scoring no goals, but assisting 7.
Style of play
Buendia is a right-footed winger who likes to be involved in the throes of the game. He is a tenacious player who loves battling and scraping and is never afraid of receiving or handing out a tackle. Primarily, Buendia has found himself on the right wing, however, is comfortable as a number 10 or left-sided inverted/inside winger. Personally, I think if Arsenal were to sign Buendia, they would look to use him off the left. This is because he naturally drifts inside and this would open space for a fullback to advance, such as Tierney. As well as this, Mikel Arteta likes for his players to use their technical ability to play combinations and draw players onto them, before bursting away or finding a pass into space. This is something Buendia can do well.
A weakness of Buendia’s game is his defensive responsibility. Whether it is tactical or not, Buendia often neglects this aspect of his game. At Arsenal, largely there would be less defensive pressure on him, given the possession aspect underpinned by Arteta’s philosophy, but improvement would be needed. Buendia is also susceptible to bouts of aggression on the pitch in the heat of the moment. Seemingly, Buendia has improved his disciplinary record, with four yellows this season. In the Championship, however, he did receive 7 yellow cards and 1 straight red. This is high given that he was playing on the wing or as a number ten.
In regards to build-up play, Buendia is vastly underappreciated. The Argentine has a key pass ratio per 90 minutes of 3.27 this season. Moreover, his expected assists of 6.64 and actual assists of 7, have correlated well. This shows the high quality of chances Buendia creates for his teammates. Buendia’s expected assists per 90 is far higher than both Mesut Ozil and Nicolas Pepe at 0.30, 0.14 and 0.20 respectively. To further enhance this, Norwich have only scored 25 goals this season, with Buendia directly assisting 28% of them. Furthermore, Buendia has been involved in an expected goals build-up per 90 minutes of 0.30. Expected goals build-up per 90, is the expected goals per 90 of the possession sequence the player is involved in. It also excludes shots and key passes, therefore showing players who are more involved during possession spells. Ozil recorded 0.38 and Pepe 0.26.
Expected goal chain per 90 minutes shows creative players and those who finish moves. It includes their shots and key passes during a possession sequence. All three players perform well with both Buendia and Ozil registering a 0.51, whilst Pepe marginally edges them with a 0.57. If you include Aubameyang, he unsurprisingly records 0.59. This is largely down to the substantially greater number of shots he takes over the other three. As well as this, he operates in positions which are more detrimental to an opponent and therefore increase his imprint on expected goal chains.
Buendia vs Aubameyang
If Buendia were to come in and replace Aubameyang, then we would see two very different players. Aubameyang’s XGchain per 90 of 0.59, shows him to be involved in moves which result in shots and key passes. The xG build-up per 90 of 0.17, shows that when Arsenal have the ball, he isn’t looking to be as involved or creative form deeper. This implies, Buendia prefers to drop deeper and create from deep, whereas Aubameyang prefers to maintain a higher position and be on the end of moves aiming to shoot or set-up a teammate. It’s worth noting that if Aubameyang leaves and a player like Buendia replaces him, then Arteta will tactically have to change his source of goals. I’m sure Buendia can be the player who finishes moves, but he prefers to naturally come deep, rather than hold a high wide position.
This graph shows Buendia against Ozil, Pepe and Aubameyang. The orange line which shows key passes per 90 minutes, clearly shows Buendia as a very creative and incisive player. The yellow line shows the expected goals with shots and key passes. Aubameyang just marginally shades Buendia, Pepe and Ozil. Although, for a player whose team is bottom of the league, Buendia isn’t performing badly. Finally, the blue line which shows the xG build-up per 90 minutes, depicts Ozil as the most effective, however, Buendia and Pepe aren’t far behind, whereas Aubameyang languishes.
I have already mentioned that Buendia isn’t the player who finishes moves and his 0 Premier League goals shows this. This season, Buendia has averaged 1.43 shots per 90 minutes. In comparison, Aubameyang has taken 2.53, Pepe 2.49 and Ozil, 0.55. To further enhance the positions Buendia operates in, 59% of his 32 shots this season, have come from outside of the box. A total of 24% of Aumabeyang’s 65 shots have come from outside of the box. Again, 40% of Pepe’s 44 shots have come from outside of the box. Only 1 of Ozil’s 9 shots have been from outside the box.
At Arsenal, Buendia will be blessed to not have as much defensive responsibility, although it will be expected of him to contribute. The high press and ball orientated philosophy of Mikel Arteta, will surely allow Buendia to thrive. As well as this, Buendia’s intelligence and nous will aid Arteta’s positional and pattern play. Buendia will need to contribute goals, especially if Aubameyang leaves. Buendia would allow Arteta to better balance the team and will allow Pepe to stay higher and in more effective positions. He could also tuck in from the left, opening the wing for the left-back, whilst potentially, Ozil interchanges positions with Lacazette, always offering passing options and attacking threats.
Buendia’s weight of pass, skill and speed of mind, allows for him to cause havoc for opposition defences. His ability to recognise patterns and movement sequences which require deft skill and unerring accuracy is among the best in the league. His stocky frame and low centre of gravity allow him to shirk challenges and find a pass.
In conclusion, I think Arsenal must make Buendia a priority signing. A player who Transfermarkt value at £13.05 million (however are known to undervalue players), could prove to a bargain for Arsenal. Arsenal could really take advantage, given that Norwich are all but relegated and given the current climate, will most likely need cash. This could make it a perfect deal for Arsenal. I think just like at Norwich, Buendia could become a fan favourite, with his passion and tenacity. He shows the pedigree and sheer quality to play at a high level in England. I fear if Arsenal don’t go for him, a Leicester type club will. I can also envisage a similar to James Maddison situation develop. Leicester will strengthen and develop yet another top talent for relatively cheap.