‘I grew as a player and as a person’ – Canaries beat rivals to sign rapidly improving Buendia
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Norwich City nipped in ahead of a clutch of British rivals by moving swiftly to secure the signing of Argentine attacker Emi Buendia.
The 21-year-old is poised to join the Canaries from Spanish top flight side Getafe in a deal worth around £1.5million but there was also interest in him during the January transfer window.
Swansea City, then in the Premier League, and Championship rivals Leeds were both among those keen on the former Argentina U20 international as he impressed on loan in La Liga 2 with Cultural y Deportiva Leonesa.
However, the Canaries are understood to have secured Buendia's summer signature, which is due to be announced in the coming weeks.
The international transfer window opens on Saturday, with no issues over a work permit expected for the South American as he has a dual passport having moved to Spain as a youngster.
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While the switch to Norwich has been in the offing since early this year, Buendia kicked on at Leonesa and finished the campaign with seven goals and 11 assists from 42 games in all competitions.
It was not enough to stop the Leon-based club slipping to relegation but the loanee was still voted player of the season by the Cultural fans.
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'The season ended badly but on a personal level, I came here with the mentality of feeling like a footballer again and playing many games – and here I have achieved it,' Buendia said as relegation was confirmed.
'I felt very comfortable and I grew as a player and as a person, although like my team-mates I had bumps (along the way).'
His success came despite controversy in January which sparked talks of a move during the transfer window, apologising to Cultural supporters and serving a one-game ban after filming team-mate Yelko Pino being disrespectful, whose loan was terminated.
Leeds were touted, due to a partnership with Leonesa, but the Canaries swooped to agree a deal with parent club Getafe.
'I want to thank the fans because I felt from the first day like I was at home,' he added, speaking to La Nueva Cronica newspaper. 'I felt the affection in the region and I wish the best to the club, the fans and the whole city of Leon.'
Last night Buendia took to his Instagram account to say goodbye to the Leonesa supporters as his loan comes to an end.
'Many thanks to @cydleonesasad for this great football year, I enjoyed a lot in the Kingdom of León,' he wrote.
'Thank all the fans for the love and the people of León for the treatment, from the first day they made me feel at home.
'Sorry for not fulfilling the objective (of avoiding relegation), it is a very difficult moment but I am sure that this club and city will go ahead and return where they deserve to be – minimum Segunda Division.
'A big thank you for everyone and I wish you the best always.'