Emiliano Buendia. Also known as ‘Football Heaven’ in yellow parts of East Anglia. A 22-year old, Argentine midfielder with the trickery to deceive any defender when he delves into his box of magic.
Yet, whilst Buendia is used to treating the Carrow Road faithful as he ghosts pasts his opponents, the former Getafe player cut a figure of frustration on Sunday afternoon – one unable to carve his way past a stubborn Manchester United defence, giving the ball away as often as a friendly neighbour dishing out sweets at Halloween.
So, ten games into the season, has Buendia’s campaign been a treat for the Premier League or a trick of the senses?
After arriving from Spain at the beginning of last season, Buendia quickly adapted to life in the English second tier. If his ability had gone under the radar since making the move across the continent, Buendia’s expertise was soon unmasked as he scored eight goals and created another 17 in 42 matches across all competitions.
Norwich’s creative figurehead with his box of tricks, Buendia showed no signs of disappearing into the darkness as he made his debut in the Premier League - an opening day assist at Liverpool was followed by three in the next four games, including a double against Manchester City.
Buendia’s talent was transforming from myth into legend as he continued to strike fear into opposing defenders.
Although the assists have since dried up, Buendia remains second in the assists chart of the Premier League – level with David Silva and Harvey Barnes whilst Kevin De Bruyne leads the way. His assist to goal partnership with Teemu Pukki is only currently matched by De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
Just two players, De Bruyne and Trent Alexander-Arnold, have played more key passes per game than Buendia who averages 2.6 per 90 minutes.
But Buendia’s performances are somewhat Jekyll and Hyde. Although he sets off on a dribble once every 30 minutes, Buendia can be tricked as often as he provides the treat – he is dispossessed an average of 3.7 times per game, more than his number of dribbles, and second only to Wilf Zaha in that department. Christian Pulisic is next on the list with 2.7.
And Buendia was at fault for losing the ball in a dangerous area during the 5-1 drubbing by Aston Villa – a moment that resulted in the visitors wrapping up the game and leaving Canaries confidence hanging by a thread.
The South American is also in the top ten for number of unsuccessful touches so far this season – 2.9 per game equates to an average of losing the ball 6.6 times every 90 minutes – that is once every 13 or 14 minutes.
Thus, Buendia is second in the league for most assists but also second for number of times dispossessed – behind Zaha.
Trick and treat?
Yet there are cobwebs deceiving some of those statistics – Liverpool’s front three have all manufactured more unsuccessful touches than Buendia.
The Argentine’s performances are a Halloween dream, or nightmare – nobody knows what is going to appear next on the Premier League doorstep.
But his ability to mix a magical potion from his cauldron of expertise is a vital ingredient to Norwich’s survival hopes. That spell he can, on his day, cast over the opposition is the extra quality Norwich need to rise again from the relegation battle – they will be hoping his tricks can form the treat on a more consistent basis.