Michael Laudrup continues to re-paint the Swans in continental colours, but might have to watch Joe Allen turn red. Meanwhile, the Swans hit the States as the entire squad get their chance to impress the new boss.
The third signing of Michael Laudrup's career is La Liga's top-scoring midfielder from last season, Michu. The former Rayo midfielder has been brought in to play the creative, goal-scoring midfielder position which Gylfi Sigurdsson made his own last season.
At just £2 million, this is yet another shrewd move from Laudrup, who has made three quick signings to significantly improve the Swans down the middle. The addition of Michu suggests that fellow new signing Jonathan de Guzman is likely to be used in a box to box role, rather than as the central attacking midfield pivot, as hinted at by Laudrup himself following the capture of the Dutchman.
De Guzman has wasted no time endearing himself to the Swans faithful by scoring this tasty free kick in the team's friendly versus the Colorado Rapids.
We all saw from Gylfi Sigurdsson last season how much of an asset a genuine set piece specialist can be; it's a weapon no team should be without, and from the looks of it, the Swans certainly won't go without next season.
Although the Swans lost that game 2-1, Michael Laudrup used the opportunity to cast the rule over pretty much the entire squad (Team GB participants and Michel Vorm the notable absentees). It's nice to see Laudrup living up to his promise that he would give every player a chance and not simply cast half the team off as is expected when a new boss rolls into town with a bloated contact book of personal favourites, a reasonable transfer budget and a strong set of ideals. Of course, when that new boss is a man of Michael Laudrup's stature, that contact book and those ideals become significant assets rather than causes for concern.
This could mean that Stephen Dobbie finally gets his chance to shine at the top level. I singled Dobbie out before last season as one of the Swans key men only to watch him bounce from Brendan Rodgers favour to the bench and then on to the reserves quicker than anyone could say "hey, didn't you score 11 goals last season?". Dobbie scored a 20 minute hat-trick in the Swans 5-0 friendly blow-out at Port Talbot, so it'll be interesting to see what Laudrup makes of him. It's probably Dobbie's last shot to impress a Swans manager, too - I feel like it's the first team or a transfer this time round.
Speaking of transfers (again), the speculation surrounding Joe Allen continues to mount. The latest suggests that Liverpool are prepared to meet Allen's minimum fee release clause, which is a healthy £15 million. As much as I love Joe Allen, being a Swansea product and all, £15 million would be a fantastic return. Interestingly, that release fee only applies to five of the big six teams (Spurs being the notable exception). However, should any of those five teams activate that clause, then other teams could come into the bidding.
Further complicating the scenario is the Brendan Rodgers clause which stipulates that Rodgers is not allowed to initiate any transfers for Swans players for the next year. However, if another side makes an offer, then Liverpool can come into the bidding. Of course, if Rodgers wants to give Swansea £15 million pounds, then I'm sure Huw Jenkins can choose to over-ride that clause, being since he engineered its inclusion in the first place.
Hot on the heels of the Joe Allen press speculation has been further speculation that the Swans are poised to make a move for Bolton's Mark Davies. This seems to be an obvious bit of match-making; Davies and Allen are similar players, and Davies is set for at least one season in the Championship as things stand. I'd be surprised if he didn't move to a Premier League club before the season starts, since he's certainly Premier class. Whether that will be as a Joe Allen replacement for Swansea, we'll have to wait and see.
If Swansea sell Allen for his buyout fee of 15 million will they spend more than a few million on a player? Every offer I see for them on a player is 3 and under. If Allen leaves as he seems to be, do you feel that affects Sinclair in any way?
I think part of the reason behind the Swans low-fee approach has been that generally speaking, a high-price player is likely to command a similarly high salary, and Huw Jenkins has been keen to point out that the team won't over-pay individual players in a way which unbalances the budget for salaries.
That said, the Swans were willing to part with near enough eight million for Siggy, and de Guzman is valued at seven - which the Swans might end up paying further down the line. I feel that the Swans are at a point where the entire scale of salaries and transfer fees is on the rise to the next level - another successful Premier League season, and we could be seeing bigger sums talked about with more regularity in the future. Mind you, if the Swans can keep finding inexpensive players with the talent to compete at this level, then all the better.
As for the Sinclair situation - it's certainly likely that if Allen goes, Scotty might feel like he's earned a step up to a bigger club, too. However, he struggled a lot to find a home before the Swans, failing to establish himself on more loan stints than most players have clubs in their whole career. He ought to realise that he's a guaranteed key player for the Swans, and the chance to work with one of the greatest players in the history of the game in Michael Laudrup should be enough to keep anyone around. M
Posted by Matthew Cordell on 08/04/2012
What happened to Brendan Rodgers not being able to sign Swansea players for a year?
It's a bit of a joke that the first thing he does is come hunting Joe Allen, eh? The contractual clause is still in effect, but in this case, Rodgers' exploited his previous knowledge of the small print in Joe Allen's contract to put an offer on the table which Huw Jenkins probably can't refuse. Was it poor form on Rodgers' part? Most certainly. However, it's one of those situations where I imagine Jenkins will forgive Rodgers' transgression and waive the Liverpool clause because the offer is just too rich.
However, I would put no stock at all in the Ash Williams rumour, and wouldn't expect Rodgers to raid the Swans for anyone else at this time. M
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Max Hicks is a writer, musician and former Sunday League left winger. Despite never playing professionally, Hicks has walked onto the hallowed turf of the old Vetch field in full Swansea whites... as a mascot. These days, when not writing, he plays in defence in a weekly jumpers-for-goalposts kickaround.