2015/16 Finish: 12
After a great bit of business to bring Andre Ayew in on a free, Swansea flew out of the gates. The Swans looked exciting, their new signing scoring for fun and their manager at the time, Garry Monk, being touted as the next English manager. This lasted for about five weeks when the Welsh club came crashing back to Earth. Swansea flirted with relegation for the rest of the season before getting back on track and finishing the season in 12th.
Swansea have some very good pieces, but haven’t been able to complete the puzzle to get the team to the next level. Ayew, Sigurdsson, Gomis and Montero (for the first few matches, at least) give Swansea some solid options up front and all offer something a little differently. At the back, Ashley Williams and Federico Fernandez provide a decent pair to complete the triangle at the back with former Arsenal ‘keeper, Lukasz Fabianski. Where they struggle, in my eyes, is the middle of the pitch. Ki Sung-Yueng works hard, but doesn’t offer enough at either end of the pitch.
Transfers In: Llorente (FW), Fer (CM), van der Hoorn (CB), Reid (RB), Byers (CM), Birighetti (GK)
Swansea City have made some decent signings this offseason. The signing of Llorente is a statement of intent from the club. The big striker comes in at 6’5” and brings with him loads of experience from some of the top clubs in the world. Llorente has played for Basconia, Athletic Bilbao, Juventus, and Sevilla, boasting a record of 128 goals in 400 matches in his professional career.
Fer and van der Hoorn, both Dutch internationals, give the club some different options in key areas. Fer played for Swans last season on loan from QPR, so he will be familiar with what Guidolin expects of him. The central midfielder has the tools to become an excellent addition at the Liberty Stadium, but he has yet to realize that potential since coming to the Premier League in 2013 from Twente.
Mark van der Hoorn is a central defender, who joins Swansea from Ajax in the Eredivisie. The Dutchman seems to have been added as depth for now with the view of eventually replacing Ashley Williams, who has been linked with a move away to Everton. Sooner or later, when the time comes for Williams to leave the club, the club will look to van der Hoorn to step up and fill the shoes of the club legend, which will not be an easy task.
Transfers Out: Sold: Eder (FW), Paloschi (FW). Loaned out: Bartley (CB), Shephard (RB) Grimes (CM), Gomis (FW), Hedges (FW)
Swansea’s sales have been slightly concerning, the departures of Eder, Paloschi, and loaning out of Bafetembi Gomis have left the club short up top, even with Llorente inbound. What is more concerning, however, is the rumors gathering steam of Andre Ayew and Ashley Williams both heading out of the club. If the Welsh club lose these two key players, they could be in serious trouble for the upcoming season. The Ghanaian and Welshman were vital in both Swansea’s great start and in re-stabilizing the club after they fired Garry Monk, the loss of these two would be tough to overcome.
Key Player(s): Gylfi Sigurdsson and Ashley Williams
Sigurdsson enjoyed a great spell with Swansea earlier in his career, which earned him a move to Spurs. After the Iceland international was no longer needed at White Hart Lane, Swansea jumped back in and brought him back to Wales. Sigurdsson is an extremely technically gifted player who is most effective when the team is built around him. Gylfi occupies the attacking midfield role and can pull the strings to unlock the best of defenses. The attacking midfielder is most famous for his set-piece taking ability.
Ashley Willams is an obvious choice for key player. His name is synonymous with Swansea City F.C. The center back has been with the club through three divisions of English football and will be playing his 10th season at the Liberty Stadium this year (barring a transfer to Everton). With the center back in the squad, Guidolin’s side looks a lot more stable than without him.
Predicted 2016/17 Finish: 13
Swansea is a curious case, they seemed to be on the brink of pushing to the next level and reaching Europe, but slid down the slippery slope that was the Premier League table last year. Unfortunately, Swansea seem to be on a downward trajectory with a few key players being touted to leave the club. If the club loses either Ayew or Williams, or both, it could spell disaster for a club who has played some pretty attractive football over the years and made themselves into a consistent top flight outfit. Given the ins and outs and lack of depth at the club, we can’t see Swansea making a big impact this year.