At the end of the 2019-20 season, Aston Villa, Liverpool, and RB Leipzig were linked with Werder Bremen’s Milot Rashica. However, the Kosovo attacker stayed in the Bundesliga for another season before signing with Norwich on June 22nd, 2021. The Canaries know that staying in the Premier League isn’t an easy task, but Rashica could make the difference in a potential relegation fight.
Easing the Responsibility on Pukki
Over the past three years, Norwich have relied heavily on Teemu Pukki for goals. In each of the last three seasons, the Finnish striker has topped the club’s goalscoring charts, but Daniel Farke will hope that Rashica’s arrival will ease the pressure on the 31-year-old. Pukki recently travelled with Finland for the European Championships. However, Markku Kanerva’s side couldn’t reach the knockout stages, finishing third in Group B. Belgium topped the group, winning each of their three games, before losing to Italy in the quarter-finals. Italy now stands at 10/11 odds to win Euro 2020 in the finals against England, with Italy’s last victory in the Euros dating back to 1968.
While Rashica will support Pukki, Norwich supporters shouldn’t expect a similar output from their new signing compared to the Finnish attacker. Although the Kosovo international can play anywhere across the forward line, he predominantly plays from the right flank. Because of this, he doesn’t have the goal return of a central striker. To date, Rashica’s best goalscoring campaign came in 2018-19, when he scored nine goals in 26 matches. In the following season, the 24-year-old found the net on eight occasions in 28 appearances.
Tasked with Replacing Buendia’s Creativity
Aside from bringing more goals to Norwich, who only found the net 26 times during their last top-flight campaign in 2019-20, Rashica takes on the responsibility of filling Emiliano Buendia’s boots. The Spanish winger spent three years at Carrow Road before leaving the Canaries to join Aston Villa in a club-record £33-million transfer. During Buendia’s time with Norwich, he became the team’s primary assist provider, registering 17 assists in 39 matches in 2020-21. Stylistically, the Argentine plays differently from Rashica, and the signing isn’t necessarily a like-for-like replacement.
According to Understat, in 2019-20, Buendia averaged 3.03 key passes per 90 minutes, while he also recorded 0.26 expected assists each match (xA90). By comparison, Rashica played 1.60 key passes per game, and his xA90 sat at 0.11. Despite the undeniable gulf, the Argentine ended the campaign with 0.26 assists per game, while the Kosovo attacker outperformed his xA90, registering 0.21 assists in 2019-20. Although Rashica doesn’t create as much as Buendia, his top-flight assist figures are impressive. Not only that, but the former Werder Bremen attacker is a consistent goal threat, having nearly double the number of shots per 90 minutes than the 24-year-old Argentine.
A Blend of Pukki and Buendia
In Rashica, Norwich have recruited a well-rounded attacker capable of both scoring and creating match-winning goals. On paper, the Kosovo international is the ideal replacement for Buendia, with his heightened goal threat making up for his lesser creativity. If the 24-year-old can hit the ground running, the Canaries have pulled off a shrewd piece of business at £9.4 million.