South American football expert and City fan Adam Brandon looks at the exciting Emi Buendia's journey from Argentina to Carrow Road, taking in some Spanish giants on his way...
As Norwich slipped to a third defeat in just five matches in the opening month of the season, much of the talk was how this was the weakest Norwich squad for a decade. Yet, waiting in the wings were a number of players ready to transform City's fortunes. Among them was a diminutive, skillful Argentine with monumental ambition and bags of desire.
Argentina is a country well known for being a great producer of quality meat, wheat and soya that it sells to the rest of the world. It is also famous for being the land that gave the world Maradona and Messi. It is one of the globe's most prolific exporters of professional footballers.
Emiliano Buendia is among those, and the short, strong and tricky Argentine midfielder is winning over Norwich fans with every passing week.
Against Millwall, he was the chief cheerleader when time was fast running out as City desperately tried to get back the points that had been thrown away (quite literally).
Emi played a key role in the two injury time goals that sent Carrow Road into pandemonium and elevated the club back to the top of the tree.
His previous, most eye-catching display came in the home win over Brentford where his classy goal separated the two sides. Afterwards, Farke rightly praised his workrate, but suggested it was not typical for an attacking South American player.
It was probably just a throwaway comment from Farke in the midst of post-match jubilation, but it is something that has been said about Emi and his compatriots before in Europe by fans, pundits and coaches.
This unwarranted stereotype is especially unfair when talking about Argentine players. Many like Buendia have made incredibly brave, life-changing decisions to fulfil their promise and this shines through on the field. They often come from families who have made huge sacrifices to make their children's dream a reality. Therefore they appreciate that importance of hard work on and off the field more than most.
More often than not, the difference between the kid from the street in Argentina that makes it and the one that doesn't is almost certainly to do with showing the right kind of attitude rather than simply relying on innate or even trained talent.
The latter can be found in abundance in any neighbourhood in any urbanscape across Argentina. From dirt pitches to concrete to grass, if you walk the streets of Argentina, you don't have to look far for a player full of flair and skill.
Hard work on the pitch is ingrained in Argentine football. Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham, Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds and Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid are three of the hardest working sides in Europe and the fact they are all managed by Argentines is no coincidence.
Fans of club sides across Argentina tend to be much more loyal and louder compared to the rest of the continent. And they demand one thing - poner huevos - which would amusingly translate literally as "to lay eggs" but in a football context means "to give your all" (the eggs signify testicles, of course.)
Buendia is said to be a fanatic of River Plate, one of the two giants of Argentine football even though he somehow resisted the beautiful yellow and green of the biggest side in his home city of Mar del Plata - Club Atletico Aldovisi.
In 2015 Buendia gave a fascinating insight into his development to an Argentine website.
In it he talks of how he left Argentina at just eleven-years-old to pursue his dream of becoming a professional footballer. A decision that initially meant having to leave behind his parents and two younger brothers.
Emi's talent on the ball was first moulded in Cadetes de San Martin - a small family club based in the resort city of Mar del Plata on Argentina's Atlantic coast in the Buenos Aires province.
He started by playing small sided indoor games at the institution from the age of five after he was spotted by a Cadetes coach who had visited his primary school. Despite Cadetes being the equivalent of a non-league club in England, they have produced a number of quality, technically gifted players in recent years including Watford's current star man Roberto Pereyra and Francisco Feuillassier who is highly rated in Real Madrid's current youth team.
Norwich's first South American goalscorer in living memory was among a raft of talent in his home city of Mar del Plata, yet he stood out far enough to be offered a trial at Real Madrid on the recommendation of ex-Cadetes and Real Madrid player Juan Esnaidar, who Emi remains close to.
The trial went well and he stayed at Esnaidar's house in Madrid until his family moved over to be with him six months later - a period that Buendia described as "difficult, especially for my mother". She did however come to visit Emi for one month while his father came for a short stay later in that six month period as they risked everything in support for their talented son.
Once the Buendias did move over to Spain, his two younger brothers had to repeat a year at school because of the differences in the academic years between Spain and Argentina.
Adaptation to Spanish life was tricky on and off the field for pre-teen Emi. In the Real Madrid academy he had to get used to the speed of the artificial pitches used at the Spanish giants' training facility. He was mainly used on the right wing and the pace of the game came as a surprise to the young Argentine. Yet, he battled through and continued to improve.
Due to their gregarious nature and their love for the beautiful game, Argentines famously travel well. They have had a significant impact on European football through the ages.
Ricky Villa and Osvaldo Ardiles were trailblazers at Spurs in a difficult time for Anglo-Argentine relations, yet still made a lasting impression on the English public and remain well-loved.
Emi has cited in interviews that Barcelonais famous 6-2 win over Real Madrid in 2008 in the Bernabeu was an inspirational moment in his childhood. He also sees Messi as his role model and idolo. This is especially significant given that they followed similar, sacrificial routes across the Atlantic from Argentina at a very young age.
After two years with the Spanish giants he was told he wasn't going to make it with los merengues.
Heartbreak for Emi and his family, however another side based in the city would soon pick him up.
In the humble surroundings of Getafe in the south of Madrid, Buendia found what he described as a "second home". There, he started to play more centrally, as a typical Argentine playmaker i.e. a 10. He also found companionship in the dressing room in the form of experienced Argentine defender Lisandro Lopez, who Buendia says offered him valuable advice on and off the field.
Moreover, another Argentine at Getafe was a fitness coach that put him on a special diet and Emi would soon notice the benefits with an uplift in his stamina. His performances at Getafe in 2015 earned him a place in the Argentina U20 side for the U20 World Cup in New Zealand. Argentina disappointed, but Buendia managed to catch the eye of many observers and scored in Argentina's 3-2 defeat against Ghana in the group stage.
Despite a promising start to his career with Getafe and signing a new five year contract in 2016, Buendia found himself out of the Getafe side and loaned to second tier club Cultural Leonesa for a season where he impressed. But despite his best efforts it ended in a heartbreaking final day relegation.
Buendia's five goals and twelve assists for a struggling side attracted attention of a number of clubs across the continent, but it was Stuart Webber that pounced quickest to seal a bargain deal by taking advantage of Getafe's financial problems.
As I'm sure you have heard by now, Norwich City sit atop of The Championship with just over a third of the season gone. Buendia's growing influence in the Norwich midfield has been key in recent weeks.
Having been injured for some of pre-season and at the start of a difficult August, he came into the side as a starter in the 3-1 win over Cardiff in the League Cup at the end of that month. His assists in that game were enough to earn him his first league start in the red hot atmosphere of the East Anglian Derby.
In a game that was surely far removed from his experiences in Madrid, Buendia put in a solid yet unspectacular display on his full debut as he set about adjusting to life in The Championship.
Many expected him to drop out of the side, but Farke kept faith and over the next few weeks he would play every match, including Wycombe away in the 3rd round of the League Cup where his consistently excellent set piece delivery proved crucial.
Buendia is fast becoming one of the best construction artists in the league. The stats show that Emi is one of the most successful 1v1 dribblers in the second tier, with only Jack Grealish and Theo Robinson ahead of him.
Buendia also ranks third in smart passes and he scores high on various construction metrics such as second, and third assists i.e. the second or third last pass in a move leading to a goal - see Pukki's winner against Millwall for an example.
As a consequence of his quick feet and thinking, the Argentine has become one of the most fouled players in the league (Leitner is City's number one, just behind Grealish), and Norwich are the most fouled team. Not only that, his two goals so far this season displayed his tremendous first touch. His one touch finish on the volley from Klose's long range pass against Brentford was something very few players in The Championship are capable of.
Furthermore, his goal against Sheffield Wednesday saw him trap and roll a high looping ball all in a blink of an eye giving the Owls defence barely any time to react, while he dispatched his shot into the corner of the net for 2-0. Farke predicted these match winning plays back in August; "When he is fit, he is 100 percent able to create some special moments".
Next year will mark 80 years of Cadetes de San Martin's existence and Emi can expect an invite to the party. In 2015 he went back to his roots and hosted a workshop, signed some shirts and showed off his skills to the Emis of the future.
Off the pitch, he became a father around the start of this season and has seemingly settled into Norfolk life well with his girlfriend. He has also made quick progress learning English - a credit to his discipline and that Argentinian adaptability.
If Norwich continue to compete at the top of the Championship, then Emi will be in a perfect environment to showcase his immense talent. As he continues to successfully adapt to the division, we can only expect him to get better.
His dream is to play for Argentina, and although the two-time World Cup winners are going through a difficult patch at present, they are not short of quality in Emi's position, but those who know him wouldn't write him off.
At just 21 it is clear Buendia has huge potential to become a key player at a top flight club in one of the big leagues in Europe - let's just hope it is with Norwich.
P.S. When Emi leaves the pitch next Saturday against Swansea - he'll surely be looking for somewhere to watch the 2nd leg of the Copa Libertadores Final, South America's Champions League, where River Plate face their most fierce rivals Boca Juniors - it is the biggest game in the history of Argentine club football. If you know of anywhere, maybe let him know....