Swansea’s Spanish stars: Hit or miss?

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Following the departure of Roque Mesa to Sevilla on-loan, we rate the 17 Spanish senor’s who swapped sunny Spain for the Liberty Stadium over the past years.

Mesa was brought to the club just six months ago in an £11 million deal from Las Palmas but has struggled for regular game time in South Wales.

Here, Sam May take a look at the players who made the grade and those who fell short…

Angel Rangel (2007-Present) – Hit

With over 200 appearances, Rangel joined the club under Martinez. Scout Kevin Reeves had gone to look for a striker at the time but picked up a £15,000 bargain in Rangel instead. He has played in two league promotions and had Carabao Cup success. He is a fan and club favourite. Once he hangs up his boots, it is likely he will be offered a coaching role at the club.

Angel Rangel Guillem Bauza (2007-10) – Hit

Who? The former Spanish youth international was once a strike partner of Fernando Torres. He scored a brace against Gillingham, that helped to seal promotion to League One. Making over 60 appearances in South Wales scoring 16 goals, he finished his playing career in 2015, and went on to become a qualified doctor.

Jordi Gomez (2008-09) – Hit

Gomez joined Swansea on-loan from Espanyol and was an instant hit for the Swans during his time in South Wales, when the club was playing in the Championship. Scoring the winner in the first South Wales derby in a decade, he instantly became a fan favourite. At the time, Roberto Martinez was key to make the deal a permanent one, but a switch couldn’t be struck. The next summer Martinez moved to Wigan and Gomez became one of his first signings for the Latics.

Roberto Martinez (2002-06 player, 2007-09 manager) – Hit

Martinez became one of the most significant figures at Swansea, during his seven years with the club. The Spaniard was brought in from Walsall in 2002 and became captain under manager Brian Flynn, signing for the club permanently a year later. That year, he helped the Swans as they looked to avoid relegation from the Football League. He was released by Kenny Jackett in 2006, but then replaced him as manager the same year, helping Swansea to reach promotion to League One. He was the man who implemented the certain possession-based game associated with the club and is currently manager of the Belgium National team.

Jordi Lopez (2009-10) – Miss

Following the arrival of Paulo Sousa from QPR, the former Real Madrid midfielder followed his former manager to the Liberty Stadium. Making just a total of 15 appearances in two years, his contract was terminated, and he departed for Vitesse Arnhem shortly after. In 2017, he hung up his boots having ended his career with Segunda Division B side Sabadell.

Gorka Pintado (2008-11) – Miss

The striker was hampered with injuries during his three years spell under Martinez. A £200,000 signing from Granada, he scored goals against Hull City, Nottingham Forest and rivals Cardiff City, but didn’t really hit the ground running during his 73 appearances. He eventually left to join AEK Larnaca.

Albert Serran (2008-11) – Miss

A £80,000 signing from Espanyol, Serran joined the Swans along with Spanish compatriot Jordi Gomez. Making 30 appearances he never became a first name on the team sheet. He was released at the end of 2010-11 as Swansea were promoted to the Premier League. He is currently playing for Chabab Rif Al Hoceima in Morocco.

 Andres Orlandi (2007-10) – Miss

Having been part of the Barcelona youth setup at the time when it included Samuel Eto, Giovanni Dos Santos and Bojan Krkic. Orlandi joined the Swans from Alaves. His time at the club coincided with numerous injuries, but he did score the fastest top-flight goal for five seasons netting just 25 seconds against Wolves in his final season at the club. Having just made 20 appearances, he joined Brighton and began to help them with their promotion push.

 Pablo Hernandez (2012-14) – Miss

Brought to the club by Michael Laudrup, in a £5.55 million move from Valencia, it took longer than expected for the winger to get to grips with the physicality of the Premier League. He later improved under Garry Monk, showing some flashes of brilliance, but left to join Al-Arabi, before reuniting with Monk at Leeds in 2016.

Michu (2012-2015) – Hit

Making over 50 appearances for the Swans, Michu hit the ground running. He was used as a striker and attacking midfielder during his time in South Wales. A bargain buy in a £2 million deal from Rayo Vallecano, he became one of the big names in Europe at the time. Leaving the Liberty at the end of the 2015-16 season, he went on-loan to Napoli. He has recently been released by Oviedo and is currently a free agent.

Chico Flores (2012-14) – Hit

A £2 million move from Genoa saw ‘Chico’ become Laudrup’s first Spanish signing at the Liberty Stadium. He impressed in games such as the 1-1 draw against Manchester United in 2012, coming close to a Spain call-up. He also became a favourite amongst the fans at the club during this spell.

Jose Canas (2013-14) – Miss

Canas became a Spanish import under Laudrup following a fine spell with Real Betis. However, despite making 35 appearances at the club, he was moved on. He moved back to his homeland to join Espanyol and is now playing in the Greek Superliga with PAOK.

 

 

 

 

Alejandro Pozuelo (2013-14) – Miss

He is most likely to be up there as one of the worst signings for the club. Pozuelo suffered a torrid time in South Wales and found life in the Premier League tough to tackle. He scored just two goals in 36 appearances, in one season. Moving back to his homeland, he joined Rayo Vallecano and is now featuring for Genk in Belgium.

Alvaro Vazquez (2013-14) – Miss

Joining on-loan from Getafe, he became Laudrup’s eighth signing, but failed to live up to expectations. He was identified as back-up to Wilfried Bony and Michu but struggled to adapt to the rigours of Premier League football. Swansea decided against making his move permanent.

Jordi Amat – N/A

Currently on-loan with Real Betis, Amat made the move to Swansea in a £2.5 million deal from Espanyol in 2013. He made over 50 appearances since joining the club but found game time limited following the arrivals of Alfie Mawson and Mike Van der Horn. It is unlikely he will be part of Carlos Carvalhal’s plans next season.

 

 

Fernando Llorente (2016-17) – Hit

Llorente flourished for the Swans having just spent one season at the club. He was pivotal in helping his side avoid relegation last season and scored 15 goals in one season, before making the move to Spurs as back up to Harry Kane.

Borja Baston (2016-17) – Miss

Becoming Swansea’s record signing in a £15 million deal from Atletico Madrid. He suffered a miserable first season at the club, scoring just once in 16 appearances in 3-2 defeat to Arsenal. He was allowed to join Malaga on-loan for the 2017-18 season. Whether he could feature under Carvalhal next season is currently unclear, but if so, he has a lot to prove to Swans fans going forward.

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Alexis Sánchez: What will happen to the Arsenal misfit?

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In June Alexis Sánchez contract at Arsenal us up. But what will happen to the Arsenal misfit? Sam May takes a look.

If you believe Pep Guardiola, there was a gentleman’s agreement that he would join the champions elect on a free and thus earn an even bigger wedge per week than he already does.

At Christmas however, it looked like he was on the move early. Perhaps maybe a request from the Chilean to his agent to get him in early at Manchester City and pick up a Premier League winners medal via the back door?

All well and good, not. His demands, the spin off for his agent and Arsenal trying to recoup some the huge money they have lauded on someone who allegedly hit out when it wasn’t going his way, has now put him in the mucky stuff.

Chelsea had a sniff, and Jose Mourinho joined in – no doubt trying to keep up with the “Jones’s” or the Mansours to be precise. By all accounts Manchester United were to meet the sky-high demands to keep him away from City.

With the Sky Blues pulling out, this now leaves only the Red side of Manchester who want to take him and they now want to use Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a make weight. A player who Mourinho has stated, doesn’t have a future at the club much longer. The player himself wants away, but also more than his current £140,000 a week he is currently receiving – despite the fact he isn’t even playing for the Red Devils.

The cash strapped Gunners are not willing to pay off and that could scupper Sánchez going anywhere anytime soon. Arsenal will look to a replacement for Theo Walcott who has joined Everton for £20 million as well as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who joined rivals Liverpool.

If it falls through then there is only one option for Arsene Wenger, to put the Chilean misfit in the Gunners Under-23s squad for the remainder of the campaign. Would the true Arsenal fans support that decision? Its highly likely they would. Sánchez and his agent would have themselves to blame if that happened. Who then will take him on in the summer?

Liverpool should look no further than Grêmio’s Arthur to replace Philippe Coutinho

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Having sold Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona for £142 million, Liverpool should make a move inform Grêmio midfielder Arthur, writes Sam May.

Riyad Mahrez, Thomas Lemar, Julian Draxler and Manuel Lanzini are just a few names that have been touted to replace the Reds former Brazilian, but making a move for Arthur would be a wise and clever choice by the Reds.

The 21-year-old was only picture wearing a Barcelona shirt before Christmas, causing speculation he was destined for the Camp Nou. He does look set for the Premier League it seems however, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all expressing interest. Atlético Madrid had also been keen, but interest has since cooled.

Arthur has drawn comparisons with current Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta, the man Coutinho looks set to replace in Catalonia, due to his exceptional passing, time on the ball, dribbling skills and all round technique.

He has been a key figure for Brazil’s Under 20 side, but is yet to make an appearance for the senior side, despite being called up in September by head coach Tite to face Chile and Bolivia, due to his impressive displays for Grêmio. Even though he has played the majority of the time in the defensive role for his current club, there is no reason why he can’t push forward and adapt into the attacking midfield areas.

Not only would a move to Anfield help the player to secure a place in Brazilian World Cup squad ahead of Russia in a few months time, he would also link up with fellow countryman Roberto Firmino.

Liverpool’s current 26-year-old only tweeted a few days ago saying: “Liverpool is no longer the same without you my magical brother, I wish you infinite success, that you enjoy life and realise all your dreams. It was an honour to play with a magician like you.” A move for Arthur would not only put smiles on Liverpool fans faces, but also Firmino’s face it seems.

Perhaps it would be a risk considering the player would be new to the Premier League, it may take time for him to settle in England and he may not live up to the heights of Coutinho for now – but it sure would be a risk worth taking.

Coutinho’s fellow countryman would certainly be a potential option, but the question is, how long would it take for him to live up to that potential?

Three potential replacements Liverpool could sign should Philippe Coutinho join Barcelona this January

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Barcelona are keen to sign the Brazilian and Liverpool will look for a top class replacement should he leave Anfield, writes Sam May.

The transfer saga continues with Coutinho’s future uncertain and the player adamant he has played his last game for the Reds. Liverpool will hope to keep hold of him, but there is no guarantee.

Should the player leave for the Catalan giants, Liverpool will be ready to target his replacement, but who could they go for?

 

Thomas Lemar (AS Monaco)

Liverpool were keen on the Frenchman Lemar in August, and being hopeful a deal would be struck with Monaco, the player had medical staff waiting for him in Paris. Monaco had sold a number of high profile stars that summer, so it seemed Lemar would be joining them out of the exit door. The 22-year-old however, does still want out and Liverpool could come calling once more.

Lemar can play both wide and central, and would be seen as the perfect option. He has possession and pace but not quite as much creativity at Coutinho.

 

Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)

Lanzini would be the perfect option for Coutinho and the fact he has Premier League experience would suit the Reds. The 24-year-old is skilful on the ball and can get between the lines. He has been West Ham’s best performer since his arrival in English football and Tottenham were previously linked with the playmaker last summer. He could improve further under Klopp and alongside Liverpool’s attacking players.

 

Julian Draxler (Paris Saint Germain)

Draxler shone when playing for Wolfsburg, becoming one of Europe’s most inform players, alerting Paris Saint Germain. Now with the French champions, fellow countryman and Reds manager Jürgen Klopp identified the German international last January, as Liverpool eye extra attacking options. Just 12 months on and he is linked yet again with the Reds, having failed to fully launch his career with PSG, completing 90 minutes in just three league games this season. The 24-year-old could play both in the wide and central roles, but his goal scoring would need area for improvement.