Monday, 26 June 2017

Swans stand firm over star man Sigurdsson

Everton’s £30million bid for Gylfi Sigurdsson will come as a surprise to few, however, the boarding reject that bid will come as a relief to many.

The Icelandic star was always going to be the recipient of a host of attention during the transfer window and unfortunately, aside from reject any bid, there is little the club can do about it. That said, Sigurdsson’s own comments do bring a sense of commitment from the 27-year-old. Sigurdsson stated that he is currently happy in South Wales and is not actively seeking an exit, thus it is “down to the club” if they wish to cash-in on his talent, following a brilliant season.
If the Jacks’ relegation battle proved anything it was that Sigurdsson’s creative flair is hard to come by these days and it’s refreshing to see Steve Kaplan, Jason Levien and Paul Clement stand firm over their wishes to keep the midfielder. Kaplan and Levien have made it clear that they want to keep old of last season’s Player of the Year and have already fended off previous interest in the former Spurs man.

Of the Swans’ 45 league goals last season, Sigurdsson was directly involved in almost 49%, just short of half. He scored nine and assisted 13 and was personally responsible for helping Clement’s men accumulate 14 points. Without Sigurdsson, the Swans would have finished on just 27 points in 19th place. Only Jermain Defoe with 58% of Sunderland’s goals and Romelu Lukaku with 50% of Everton’s tally rivalled Sigurdsson to such a feat.

Though, even with the board rejecting the bid from Everton, that is unlikely to deter Ronald Koeman. The Dutchman has already splashed out on Jordan Pickford and Davy Klaassen as the Toffees’ new owners look to go huge summer spending spree. However, it remains whether to be seen if the club will increase their bid of £30million.

In more positive news for the Swans, Everton have agreed a £5.2million deal for Malaga striker Sandro Ramirez. The 21-year-old will officially sign at Goodison Park following the conclusion of the European U21 Championship, though the player wishes to focus on tomorrow’s semi-final as Spain take on Poland.
And how is this good news for the Swans? Well, Ramirez’s replacement at Malaga is none other than Borja Baston. Negotiations are said to be progressing going well for the £15million record buy so the club should hopefully be able to at least recoup some of their transfer fee whilst offloading the former Atletico Madrid man from the wage bill.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Swans eye Bayern Munich's Holger Badstuber

Earlier this week we reported that Tammy Abraham was being linked with a move to the Liberty Stadium. Several other names have been mentioned with the Swans since, and a rumour regarding Bayern Munich defender Holger Badstuber looks to be picking up pace.

What makes the rumour even more interesting is that the 28-year-old has worked with Paul Clement previously between June 2016 and January 2017 at the Allianz Arena. Their working relationship only ended when the Swans made their move for Clement.

The defender has made some 178 appearances for Bayern but after a number of niggling injuries, Bastuber’s time at the Bundesliga giants has very much been blighted in recent years. Still, the defender has been capped for Germany 31-times and should he stay fit, would be an excellent acquisition for the Swans backline.
The 28-year-old spent the last half of the 2016/17 campaign on loan to Schalke 04 and with his contract expiring next month, a host of clubs are said to be interested in his signature. He made ten appearances for the Bundesliga side, recording an impressive pass success percentage of 91.2%. However, passing is the only aspect of the game that Badstuber seems to excel at, but he is also pretty handy when it comes to retaining possession. Should he be bound for the Liberty Stadium, he will of course offer some excellent competition for Aflie Mawson and Federico Fernandez who have recently cemented themselves as first-choice centre back pairing under Clement. 

Jordi Amat has been linked with a move away from South Wales and a transfer for Badstuber may all but seal the Spaniard’s fate. Whilst Amat was once ranked in the top ten best defenders in the world, Badstuber has received a similar accolade in the past and was previously regarded as one of the most talented centre backs in Europe. Should the German international have stayed injury-free, it would certainly have been interesting to see how his career panned out. Also capable of perating at left-back, Badstuber would certainly offer Clement some versatility and should Martin Olsson get injured, he could step in and do a competent job we’re sure. Former Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal once described Badstuber as the best left-footed defender in Germany, quite the reference.
Manchester City have been linked with a move for Badstuber in the past, however, it’s unlikely that the 28-year-old will interest Guardiola now.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Chelsea Youngster Tammy Abraham Set to Join Jacks on Loan

It was announced earlier that the Swans have agreed to sign Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham on loan for the entirety of the 2017-2018 season.

The Jacks managed to beat the likes of Newcastle and Brighton to the 19-year-old’s signature, with Paul Clement proving a huge swaying factor. Abraham has worked under Clement previously during his coaching spell at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham is a great acquisition for the Swans and we have no doubt he’ll become a fan favourite at the Liberty. The striker scored 23 goals in 40 appearances last season during a loan spell at Championship side Bristol City. Paperwork for the deal is expected to be completed today and the striker will join the Swans for the US Pre-season Tour.
The Camberwell born striker joined Chelsea at U8 level and progressed through the club’s academy system. He was a crucial part of the Chelsea side which recorded consecutive triumphs in both the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup back in 2015 and 2016. In the 2016 UEFA Youth League, Abraham netted eight goals in nine matches, a haul which made him the tournament’s second highest top scorer.
In the FA Youth Cup, Abraham pitched in the winning goal in the club’s 2-1 victory over Manchester City in April. Across the 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons, the striker netted an impressive 74 goals in just 98 matches in all competitions for various Chelsea youth sides. His remarkable form at youth level did not go unnoticed and interim manager Guus Hiddink invited him to train with the first-team towards the end of the 2015/16 season. Hiddink then handed the youngster his Premier League debut in a 1-1 draw with Liverpool. The following week, Abraham made his home debut in a 1-1 draw against Premier League Champions Leicester City.
Unsurprisingly, Abraham’s youth form and Chelsea debut caught the attention of several Championship clubs, all vying for the 19-year-old’s signature for a season. Bristol City eventually won the race and Abraham showed his ability in the second tier, finishing as the second top scorer in the league behind Chris Wood of Leeds United. His efforts for Bristol City saw him win Player of the Year, Young player of the Year and Top Goal scorer, becoming the first ever player to earn all three awards in the same season.

With Bafetimbi Gomis likely to be off following a loan season with Marseille, Swansea are looking for additions in both central midfield and attack and Abraham will certainly fit the bill for the latter perfectly.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Fernando Llorente: Our Jack in Attack

Following our two-part blog on the players the Swans should retain, you may have noticed one player in particular that was missing. We’ve raved about Gylfi Sigurdsson’s influence last season but paid little to no attention to Fernando Llorente’s assertion. The Spaniard is the subject from a number of clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City but the Swans should only sell for silly money.

Llorente’s influence cannot go unnoticed and was just as important to the campaign Sigurdsson. The 32-year-old scored 15-goals and grabbed one assist as the Jacks fought to the end for their Premier League lives. The striker was one of the stand out performers under Paul Clement and has duly earned his plaudits.

Arriving from Sevilla for an undisclosed fee, Llorente was under pressure to prove his worth in the top flight and whilst he could have gone the same way as Borja Baston, he staked his claim as Swansea’s mains striker. One of Llorente’s best games came during Bob Bradley’s first win as Swans’ manager.

Llorente ran riot against a hapless Sunderland, bagging a brace and picking up the man of the match award. That said, Llorente’s best game came against Liverpool, the turning point of the Swans’ season following Clement’s appointment.
The former Barcelona man put the Swans 2-0 ahead at Anfield and helped to run Jurgen Klopp’s defence ragged as the Jacks eventually went on to win 3-2. Another win in which Llorente shined in was that 3-2 win over Burnley. A crunch tie for the Jacks having loomed at the bottom of the table for far too long, the Spaniard came through.

Our star man opened the scoring early in the game but just after the hour mark, the Swans were 2-1 one down. Still, Clement’s men stayed resilient and Martin Olsson was able to make it 2-2 no more than eight minutes later. Heading into injury time, the game looked set for a 2-2 draw but the Jacks weren’t prepared to give up that easily and who other than Llorente to smash home the winner? The Spaniard left the game with yet another brace and another man of the match accolade, scooping four of each in total across the course of the season.

Chelsea tried to sign Llorente in January but fortunately, the Spaniard stayed in South Wales. The main concern is losing Llorente on a free, the striker is only contracted to the summer of 2018, though if he does depart this summer, finding an adequate replacement could prove tricky. A move to Chelsea is more likely than a move to the Etihad, there has been concrete interest from the London club in the past and Llorente has played under Antonio Conte previously during his time at Juventus.
His 15 goals in 33 Premier League games (28 starts) averages at a goal almost every two games, thus it’s no surprise Chelsea want him on their books. With Diego Costa China bound, Llorente may be one of the players Conte eyes to fill the void left by his fellow countryman.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Players Paul Clement Should Look to Keep: Part Two

Earlier this week we brought you the five Swans’ players that the club must hold on to and today we’re bringing you our second list of players.

Gylfi Sigurdsson, Tom Carroll, Martin Olsson, Alfie Mawson and Jack Cork headed that list but who will feature in today’s list?

Club stalwart Leon Britton simply must stay. The 34-year-old may have been limited to just 18 appearances last season but since he was restored to the side towards the end of last season, the Jacks took 13 points from five games, winning four and drawing one, a respectable point away to Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. That cannot go un-noted and his presence undoubtedly influenced that unbeaten run.

Prior to Britton’s arrival back in the squad, the Swans lacked speed in both their attacking and passing departments, watching the side trying to counter was beyond painful and any seemingly promising attacks were short-lived due to a sheer lack of clinical passing. However, Britton on the other hand, came in and once again demonstrated his ability to move ball around quickly and efficiently, linking up perfectly with Carroll. And not only is he great to have on the pitch, his off the field influence can also not go unnoticed, he’s a great head to have in the dressing room and we hope to see him hang up his boots at the Liberty having resided in South Wales for some 14-years.

Ki Sung-Yueng is a player who received mixed opinions and the South Korean international was the subject of interest from a number of Chinese clubs in January, however, rather than cash in on the midfielder, he should remain at the club. Granted, off the ball, Ki isn’t great and is far from the strongest or most physical player in the middle of the park but his passing attributes are second to none and he is the man who can make things happen. If you pardon the pun, he’s essentially the man with the keys, he can unlock attacks and support the forward line.
Another player Swansea should definitely retain, despite having a slow start, is Jordan Ayew. In the final few weeks of the Premier League campaign, the forward went from bit-part player to unsung hero. His Swans career was kicked off with a run of substitute appearances, the majority of which saw his teammates hoof the ball to him – great for 6ft4 Fernando Llorente, not so great for 5ft9 Ayew.

A change in system fell in Ayew’s favour, Paul Clement’s decision to switch with two strikers and a midfield diamond drastically changed the Jacks’ fate. Having two strikers allowed for a more versatile game plan and it mean the team was not too over reliant on Llorente’s frame, but could use it if needed. Ayew’s pace and ability to run the passage helped Clement’s side to widen their horizons, allowing them much more room for creativity in midfield.

In defence, Frederico Fernandez should be retained, whether it’s as a squad player or key player. Clement does need to add a centre-back to his ranks and Raul Albiol has been linked (that’s a story for another day), but Fernandez has proved his worth at the Liberty. The Argentinian formed an impressive partnership with Mawson and was part of that watertight defence that helped the Swans on that unbeaten run to clinch survival, conceding just two goals in five games.