Let's start with the basic facts. Allen ended the season in the top half a dozen or so names in all of European football for passing accuracy. Names like Xavi and Iniesta, the latter of which Brendan Rodgers has directly compared Allen to. Rodgers is trying to re-build the Reds in his own (i.e. the Swans) image, and sees Allen as an important part of his plan. The men are familiar with each other, and it'll save Rodgers the implied hassle of training, say, Jordan Henderson to do the same job. For all the eyebrows I've raised over Henderson (and specifically his fee), surely that wouldn't be too much to ask - after all, what is it that Allen does so well exactly?
The basics. He can pass, sure, but how much of that impressive statistical pedigree is down to the system? Any top-flight player ought to be able to pass accurately over a short distance, and the Swans system last year was so heavily predicated on passing (even, dare I say, needless passing at times), it stands to reason it's players are going to show up in the statistics sooner or later.
Allen is also defensively responsible. Again, this is a demand of the system. Allen and Leon Britton (who actually finished the season with the best passing stats in all of Europe, yet apparently did not warrant an England call up or multi-million pound transfer interest) acted as the deep central midfield duo in Rodgers 4-2-3-1 system, which really took it's shape in the latter half of the season.
With the wingers and central attacking midifielder operating in an advanced position, the deep duo dropped back to supplement the defence, which Allen did well, playing as a box-to-box midfielder next to Britton's anchor man. In other words, he can tackle, and has sound positional skills - or at least the coachable mindset necessary to be taught positional skills. Again, basic stuff.
Allen also possess a decent shot, and has some offensive instincts, as we saw last season with his four goals and occasional late runs to join the attack. So what we're looking at is a player with a solid, basic skill set.
The negatives? Allen has a short fuse, though he managed to keep his head and only pick up the one red last season. He's not a factor in the air, he's still a little bit lacking in stamina and strength and he's not a set-piece specialist, which whilst hardly a pre-requisite for any player, is still a useful extra dimension (and one which ostensible Allen replacement Jonathan de Guzman does have, more of which later).
Don't get me wrong, I am still an Allen fan, and would much rather he'd have stayed than gone. Watching his development was one of the highlights of last season; Allen and Neil Taylor were Swansea's most improved players for me (and the Swans still have Taylor).
But that's exactly the point - Allen was developing last year, and indeed still is. He ended the season strong, and any player associated with that kind of transfer fee and a Big Six club is going to turn heads. But the consensus would have anyone believe that Allen was the Welsh Yaya Toure from the first kick of the ball to the last last season, and that simply isn't true.
He is a valuable player because he generally does all the little things right, and there are many footballers who still don't do that on a consistent basis. However, a top five percent Messi-esque figure he is not, and having a player be capable of competency across the various skill sets his position demands is something any top flight manager ought to expect, not prize at £15 million.
Michael Laudrup's acquisition of Jonathan de Guzman should go some way to filling the hole left by Allen, at least in terms of skill and competency. The real hole is in the hearts and minds of the Swans players, and it is their ability to move on without Allen, accepting new faces in his stead and working up a quick chemistry with those newcomers, which will determine how well Swansea deal with the loss.
Also, let's not forget that due to the Olympics Michael Laudrup never had a chance to work with Allen. Effectively, it's not as though he's losing a player, since he never really had him. The impact on Laudrup's picture, therefore, ought to be less significant than one might imagine.
Ultimately, Allen was just one player from a team of eleven starters who surprised everyone and finished so high last time out. The core is still intact, and I would argue the squad overall is stronger, as Laudrup has introduced a stream of established, solid professionals to cover not just Allen's loss, but that of Stephen Caulker and Gylfi Sigurdsson, more of which next time.