Norwich City playmaker Emi Buendia has to be crowned Championship Player of the Year
I am writing this week’s column prior to the EFL Awards, which are due to take place this evening.
After such a wonderful season, it is no surprise that we are heavily represented, with both Emi Buendia and Teemu Pukki on the three-man shortlist for the Championship Player of the Year accolade, alongside Brentford’s Ivan Toney.
Max Aarons is also nominated for EFL Young Player of the Year – the same award he won two years ago.
I’m going to assume by the time anyone reads this, the main award will have been presented to Buendia because anything else would be a crime against football!
Anyone who reads this column regularly knows my love for Buendia. For me, he is by far the most talented player in the league – and the stats speak for themselves.
In 37 games he has scored 14 goals and registered 16 assists – five more than any other player in the Championship. That equates to a goal contribution every 106 minutes. Another way of looking at it is that he’s been directly involved in 43 per cent of the 69 goals we have scored this season, despite missing seven games.
Stats are important, but they don’t tell the full story. Behind each goal or assist is a moment of individual brilliance which shows why the 24-year-old not only deserves the award, but also has the ability to reach the very top of the game.
There are two in particular which spring to mind – the first being his sublime touch and finish at Bristol City.
The other was at Sheffield Wednesday, when Buendia produced a match-winning assist, breaking up an Owls’ counter-attack with a crunching tackle before feeding the ball to Todd Cantwell to curl home.
Many more moments like these will be needed if we are to survive in the Premier League next season – I’m sure our maestro will be relishing the challenge ahead.
As the song goes, ‘Buendia is football heaven’ and we must treasure every moment he spends in a yellow shirt.