Norwich chief reveals how close Arsenal came to signing Buendia in January

Norwich chief Stuart Webber has played down rumours Emiliano Buendia came close to joining Arsenal this winter but admits it’s ‘inevitable’ a player of such quality will get snapped up by a bigger team at some stage in the future.

Arsenal were keen to add a creative midfielder to their ranks after missing out on a summer deal for Lyon’s Houssem Aouar and Buendia was heavily linked across the January transfer window, as well as Isco, Marcel Sabitzer and Joan Jordan.

But Norwich maintained throughout that Buendia would not be sold midway through their promotion push and the Gunners went on to wrap up a loan agreement with Real Madrid for Martin Odegaard, who has since made two substitute appearances for the north London club.

During a chat with Norwich publication The Pink Un this week, the club’s sporting director insisted there was never any approach from Arsenal for Buendia and that Max Aarons was the only player to attract any serious interest last month.

‘The only interest in any of our players was in Max which is ironic because it was the only one that didn’t get out in the press,’ Webber said.

‘That was nice and it’s often how it works. When something’s actually happening, it isn’t on some 12-year-old’s social media account.

‘Often when it is on some 12-year-old’s social media account it’s rubbish, even though we had to answer questions all January about it: “Well this 12-year-old in Essex has definitely said he’s seen [Mikel] Arteta at Buendia’s house”… I’m not sure you should believe him.

‘So yeah, we didn’t have any interest in Emi or Todd [Cantwell] but we did in Max.’

Webber said Norwich were ‘realistic’ that they would not be able to keep hold of the likes of Buendia, Aarons and Cantwell forever but believes all three players are focussed on securing the Canaries promotion back into the Premier League this season.

‘These players want to crack on and help Norwich get promoted this season and I don’t think moving in January was ever a topic but these guys,’ he added.

‘We’re top of the league and going pretty well. It might be different if we’re 15th in the Championship and they had offers to go and join whoever in the Premier League and I understand that.

‘But the fact is that as a club we’ve stuck by all of our players and all of our players have stuck by us and it’s a bit like: let’s try and finish the job rather than itching for a move for the sake of it.

‘If you’re not careful in January, there’s lots of moves that happen which just end up being forced through for the wrong reasons and six months later you end up regretting them.

‘It’s inevitable interest will come for those three boys because they’re terrific players, theyre very experienced players for their age, they’ve been delivering week-on-week for us for the last three years.

‘They’re good pros and good guys so inevitably interest will come at some point and I’ve got no doubt their journey here will end. That’s life and we’re very realistic about that. When it does we’ll make sure we’re well rewarded and make sure they go to a good place because that’s part of what we do and that’s alright.

‘Their legacy has to be leaving Norwich in the best place it can be when that day does come to leave.’

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