It is June 2018 and Norwich City have a striker problem.  

There are three senior strikers on the books: one is out of favour with the coach, one has scored one goal in seven appearances, and one has only played 13 minutes for the club.  

Where are the goals going to come from? The last season saw just 49 league goals – 34 of those were scored by players who will never play another game for Norwich. The problem seems insurmountable. What kind of player can make up for that level of deficit? 

If, at the time, your answer was a free transfer who was best known in England for being laughed at by Celtic fans, you should probably start playing the lottery. 

Teemu Pukki’s signing was not greeted with much fanfare; it was Ben Marshall, who signed on the same day, who took the headlines. He was seen as a cheap and cheerful filler, someone to tide us over until we found the real deal, and by July 10, he was widely regarded as the backup to Jordan Rhodes.  

Twenty-nine league goals in one season isn’t bad for a backup. 

It seems strange to suggest that a man who is both his country’s all-time top goal scorer and fourth in the same category for his club is underrated by fans, yet at times in his career that has appeared to be the case.  

His first season saw the eyes of the football world turn in his direction and take notice, and he won player of the month in his first Premier League outing.  

With 11 goals in a dismal season, then 26 on his return to the Championship, we became accustomed to the fact that Teemu Pukki scores goals. 

Indeed, it’s only now the goals have stopped that we’ve started to pay attention again. 

The Pink Un: Teemu Pukki hasn't been the automatic first choice this season as he has been in previous campaignsTeemu Pukki hasn't been the automatic first choice this season as he has been in previous campaigns (Image: Focus Images)

For so long Pukki was Norwich’s talisman. It was unthinkable to imagine a team sheet not featuring him, absurd to consider that most of the goals could come from anywhere else. If he wasn’t on the pitch? “Pukki would have scored that.” 

Until this season, when the script has been different. He is not Norwich’s current top goal scorer, an honour which goes to Josh Sargent.  

He has started just 29 of 38 Championship matches and has made five league appearances as a substitute, as many as in the rest of his seasons at the club combined. What’s changed? 

There are a variety of factors at play.  

Pukki was widely linked with a move away from Carrow Road in the summer. This failed to materialise, but he is out of contract at the end of the season and has not yet signed a new deal despite offers being on the table.  

His last chance to play at the highest level may be approaching and it is seeming less likely that Norwich will be in a position to offer first tier football for the 2023-24 season. 

After almost five years of committed service, it’s difficult to begrudge his mind being elsewhere. 

Equally, he was one of the few Norwich players to emerge from the recent Premier League seasons with credit in the bank. Eleven goals each season for the worst performing team in the league is no mean feat, especially when you consider how often the team was not set up to play to his strengths in the most recent go-around.  

Such a trend has continued this season. How frustrating it must be to thrive on through balls and timed passes, only to be met by aimless crosses to nowhere and hopeful punts up the pitch. 

There are problems at Norwich. Pukki is not one of them. He solved the seemingly unsolvable striker problem, led his country to their first major tournament, and made it all look like a walk in the park.  

“One more year, Teemu, one more year…”