Teemu Pukki: What those in the know have said about the Norwich City star who was labelled a flop at Celtic
Teemu Pukki has been one of the standout players in the Championship this season.
The forward has an astonishing 27 goals and nine assists for Norwich City, putting the Canaries on course for promotion to the Premier League, with a seven point cushion over third place Sheffield United.
Pukki can even end the campaign with more goals than Bolton Wanderers, who are just two ahead on 29.
The 29-year-old has had a journeyman career that has, previously, not lived up to the hype that surrounded him as a teenager.
Sevilla signed the Finland international as an 18-year-old from his hometown club KTP in 2008.
After two years, and just one appearance, he decided to return to Finland for HJK Helsinki.
Pukki scored 18 goals in 34 games and earned a move back to one of Europe’s top five leagues.
He signed for Schalke on a three-year deal but struggled in the Bundesliga with just eight goals in 47 games.
A move to the Scottish Premiership with Celtic followed next and again was not prolific.
He hit nine goals in 37 games and won the Scottish Premiership in the 2013/14 season.
The forward was loaned to Danish side Brondby for the 2014/15 season and it was later made permanent.
It was in the Danish Superliga where he rediscovered his goalscoring touch and netted 69 times in 161 games.
Teemu Pukki’s goalscoring record
Sevilla – 0 goals in 1 game
HJK Helsinki – 18 goals in 34 games
Schalke – 8 goals in 47 games
Celtic – 9 goals in 37 games
Brondby – 69 goals in 161 games
Norwich – 28 goals in 42 games
Norwich picked him up on a free-transfer in June 2018 and has gone on to fire them to the brink of promotion and was named as the Championship’s Player of the Year.
The man himself was a little sceptical of joining the second tier of English football at the time.
He told The Guardian: “I thought it was all long balls. I would say we play football.
“We want to play from behind, with passing. There’s a lot of movements, a lot of running from the guys and a lot of short passing. And we are creating a lot of chances, something that’s really important for me.”
But what do others make of Pukki?
Celtic manager Neil Lennon
“Listen, he is not going to turn into Superman just because he has got a move to Brondby,” he said after Pukki moved to Brondby. “He still has the same attributes; good feet, okay with his back to goal and he will go in behind as well.
“He has never been the most physical of players, he was never that type. He will be a similar sort of player as what you saw at Celtic but maybe a bit more comfortable in the Scandinavian environment.
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“He is a quiet boy. He had a few injury problems as well and at a club like Celtic, when you’re brought in for money, you have to score goals.
“And he wasn’t really an out-and-out goalscorer. He played within himself a little bit, I thought. He didn’t really show his capabilities.”
Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa
“Pukki’s skills are not common in English football,” he said before the two sides played earlier season. “He’s a player who is hard to neutralise, he is always in good positions to receive the ball and makes many movements.
“He plays very simple, but he is very efficient.
Norwich City manager Daniel Farke
“He deserves all the compliments and the spotlight because he has been outstanding”, Farke said to the Eastern Daily Press.
“It is also important he keeps in mind what has brought him into this position.
“The most important thing was his hard work.
“He doesn’t care so much about himself or his individual record but to work for this group and lads.
“You only shine as an individual if you are successful as a team.
“Even if he did not score in the last eight league games but we are successful as a team I am pretty sure he will be happy.”
Former Finland manager Mixu Paatelainen
“Can he score in the Premier League? For me, yes,” he said. “He is a quick player who likes to run in behind, so he is made for counter-attacking tactics.
“I would assume that if Norwich manage to go up this year Daniel (Farke) will stick with him and he will be very useful for counter-attacking tactics.
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“He is certainly not fazed by playing against big teams. He scored against Spain for us, when we drew away in a World Cup qualifier. So he can score on big occasions, no question at all.
“His pace and ability allows him to do that. He plays on that last shoulder.
“Teemu has always been very light on his feet, always very capable of getting in behind defences. His instincts inside the box are sound and he has always been a very good finisher. So I am not surprised at all he is doing so well.”
Source: SportsLatest TS