The honeymoon period looks to be over for Swansea City in the Premier League and the cold, hard reality of the difficulties of the league are finally setting in. Despite European qualification and cup glory last season, Michael Laudrup was out of a job before this season’s end and interim boss Garry Monk is struggling to stop the slide down the table.
It is remarkable that the neutral’s favourite team has struggled so badly this season. A squad containing players like Michu, Ashley Williams, Michel Vorm and Wilfried Bony is currently languishing in 15th place in the table, just six points above the relegation zone. It looks set to be an important summer for the Swans as chairman Huw Jenkins searches for the right answer to the manager conundrum. Yet, the more important questions is can Swansea keep their key men this summer?
When attempting to answer this question, it is necessary to define who is considered a “key man” for Swansea City. These are players who are central to everything that Swansea do and are the ones who can make a difference in the Premier League. Therefore, I have decided that five of the Swansea squad fall into this category – goalkeeper Michel Vorm, defender and captain Ashley Williams, midfielder Jonathan De Guzman and forwards Michu and Wilfried Bony.
We’ll start with Vorm, the Dutch international goalkeeper picked up for a measly £1.5 million when the Swans were first promoted back in 2011. Vorm has been an undoubted star at Swansea, named their Player of the Year in his first season with the club and going on to establish himself as one of the more consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League. He has struggled this season with injuries but nonetheless is still highly regarded around the league. It seems highly implausible that Vorm would leave Swansea this summer for a number of reasons, namely the fact that no team that would be considered a step up from Swansea really needs a goalkeeper at this time. Many teams are settled with their first choice stoppers meaning that the need for Vorm is low while his valuation by the Swans would almost certainly be high. He is without doubt one of Swansea’s key men and replacing Vorm on a budget would be nigh on impossible for them. Therefore, it seems as though Swansea fans can feel relaxed that Vorm will still be at the Liberty Stadium next season.
Another man who will almost certainly be at the Liberty Stadium next season too is captain Ashley Williams. A Welsh international and stalwart of their last two promotions, Williams without doubt is Swansea through and through. One of the stand-out defenders in his first couple of seasons in the top flight, Williams is pushing 30 now and would undoubtedly command a reasonable fee from any potential suitors. There also seems to be very little demand for centre backs from any of the bigger teams meaning that Williams will remain at Swansea for next season.
A man whose future is not as clear, however, is on loan midfielder Jonathan De Guzman. The Dutch international has been a mainstay for the past nearly two seasons at the heart of the Swans midfield, providing quality and a set piece threat (as evidenced in the Mestalla earlier this season). However, with Laudrup (the man who convinced him to join penniless Mallorca over a number of others in 2010) now gone, it is becoming harder and harder to see a plausible reason why De Guzman would stay. He also has a number of options that could be available to him. Firstly, he could return to parent club Villarreal and attempt to prove himself which might be a tough task since they were willing to let him leave for two seasons on loan. Secondly, he would undoubtedly cause a huge amount of interest amongst a number of mid-table La Liga and Premier League sides looking to improve their midfield at a reasonable price. Teams such as Newcastle and Valencia may look to De Guzman as that well priced option. De Guzman looks to be on his way out of South Wales this summer and it is mostly out of Swansea’s hands.
One man’s future firmly in their hands is Spaniard Michu’s. Signed for pennies in 2012m he lit up the Premier League last season with 18 goals as Swansea finished in the top half. He was linked with a big money move away from the Liberty Stadium last summer but Swansea held firm. They will probably not have that same problem this summer however as Michu has struggled this season, scoring just twice. This is not down to a huge loss of form at all rather a number of injuries have seriously affected game time and he is only just getting back to full fitness. Even so, the hype and excitement around him has gone for now meaning that he is not going to be hot property this summer. Swansea fans can be very confident that Michu will be around next season as he looks to re-establish himself once again.
The big question mark is possibly around the future of record signing Bony though. Only signed in the summer, the sacking of the man who brought him to the club and the struggles of Swansea this season may leave the Ivorian questioning why he chose Swansea. Already bagging 20 goals in all competitions this season, Bony has proven that he is a genuine goalscorer and after the huge speculation around him last summer joining a side like Arsenal or Chelsea there could be renewed interest from both sides as they battle through striker woes this season. It would unquestionably cost them a huge amount to sign Bony but if his head is turned with the lure of Champions League action and silverware then Swansea may have to face up to the reality of losing him as quickly as they acquired him.
Overall, it seems for the most part that Swansea fans can feel very confident for the most part that their key men will be at the Liberty Stadium next season. However, there are some question marks over Wilfried Bony and Jonathan De Guzman and, with the transfer window being as unpredictable as it is, don’t be surprised to see them elsewhere next season.