We have developed an identity as a well-run club playing attractive football, but interestingly we are now considered specialists in the Spanish market, in the same way that Newcastle are for French or Arsenal were for French or African talent. Yet I still remain surprised not to see a Danish player or two.
So, what do we need?
Defensively we are solid with depth across every position. Four proven centre-backs and four dependable full-back options gives us plenty of versatility. So I would not add to defence unless the bombshell of Ash leaving to a top four club is realised. Sadly this is highly possible and that opens up a like-for-like exchange with Alberto Botia or another mobile man mountain. It will also be interesting to see if Darnel Situ can finally step up - he is highly thought of and must be in his thirties by now, the length of time he’s been hanging around.
Midfield is an area where Laudrup tends to freshen things up by changing things game to game. The engine room is vital to our game with both the box-to-box nature and the creative artists requiring fresh legs to break with pace. Jonathan de Guzman is expected to find another club - he replaced Joe Allen and, in my eyes, did a better job, offering more in the final third and on set pieces.
The board will fight to keep de Guzman and his statement suggesting that he would love to stay is encouraging, but money talks and he will have lucrative alternatives. Even if Jonno chose the Swans, would we pay £7million for him? I’m not sure.
So who could fill the gap? Personally I would love to cherry pick from the relegated bunch which could include Seb Larsson? Ashley Westwood? Tarabbt (cue multiple boos)? Possibly Wigan’s Shaun Maloney or James McArthur? Jose Canas may be brought in to compete with Leon, but where does that leave injury plagued Kemy?
Out wide I expect an addition to provide another menace for tired legs, covering off-days for Dyer or Routledge. So far Lamah has proved nothing yet and Pablo is far more effective in a more central role. Laudrup has quoted on several occasions his desire to work with four wingers capable of both creating and scoring.
|Iago Aspas: Perfect signing for the Swans?|
The Lukaku merry go round is back in motion - we nearly snared him last summer but his demands were too big, however this year we have a 30% greater budget to play with. A cheeky bid for Steven Fletcher if Sunderland drop would be fantastic, but I expect us to chase value overseas, or cherry-pick from the Championship. And what about Glenn Murray at Crystal Palace or even Jordan Rhodes - these fellas are all about goals and we do create a few chances.
Here’s my top three to mull over that could add firepower up front for us:
- Adam Szalai of Mainz is a big lad and superb finisher, previously with Real Madrid and of Hungarian nationality, in his mid-twenties. He never fulfilled his early potential but could blossom under Laudrup.
- Wilfired Bony has been banging them in all season for Vitesse Arnhem, a current Ivory Coast international and at 25-years-old he is deserved of a go in a big league.
- Jonathan Soriano moved to Red Bull Salzburg for a few extra euros last summer. Why this lad hasn’t left the Barcelona fold and moved onto a big club in a major league surprises me, he’s got everything needed to succeed at a club like ours.
Adding one of these three plus Aspas takes into the category of top six challengers, it really does.
Closer to home, the under-25 home grown rule will affect decisions. Clearly Tiendalli was rated above Jazz last season but the decision is reversed for next season. The extra space in the squad is unlikely to be deemed important for another full back - a shame as Dwight has done very well.
Anybody coming in will fit the profile characteristics necessary at the club: a few years before their peak, great work ethic, comfortable on the ball in any area and the hunger to work hard.
In addition to the character profile we must consider how a blend of highly paid egotistical stars blend together. Adding the wrong individual can be hugely counter-productive if team selection doesn’t go their way. But I have faith in our board to assess the character assess anybody joining in ‘Fokker’ style.
We will continue to do it the Swansea way and, despite any whispers or speculation, I forecast a bunch of new players that we haven’t heard of and an even stronger season ahead.