Michael Laudrup’s first move as manager of Swansea saw Spanish central defender Jose Manuel Flores sign from Serie A outfit Genoa in a deal thought to be in the region of £2m. The 25-year-old arrives on a three-year deal and re-unites with the new Swans boss, having previously worked under the Dane at Mallorca…
The transfer goes some way to addressing the gap left in Swansea’s central defence after Steven Caulker returned to parent club Tottenham following a successful loan spell at the Liberty Stadium last season, with Flores, or “Chico” as he is known, set to partner Ashley Williams in the heart of the back-four. Similar to fellow new boy Jonathan De Guzman, the 6 foot 2 inch stopper revealed the chance to work with Laudrup again was a key factor in his move to the Welsh club, going on to say:
“He knows me as a person and a player, so I was honoured when the call came. I believe the manager will be good for Swansea and they have done extremely well to get him. Swansea’s way of playing is the same style as he wants to play the game. He is the right person to take this club forward. Being brought up in Spain, I have the same culture of possession and passing football. I like to play from the back, come forward with the ball, and add to the possession game.”
The centre-half began his career as an 18-year old with hometown club Cadiz. After a couple of seasons in the reserves, Flores was promoted to the first-team but made just three appearances before being sent out on loan to the Spanish lower leagues during the 2007-08 campaign. Spells at Racing Club Portuense and Barcelona B harvested five goals in 32 games for the clubs before La Liga side Almeria came calling.
Over the course of a couple of campaigns, Flores played 47 times and scored a single goal – his displays in helping the club to a solid 13th place finish in 2009-10 caught the eye of Genoa and the centre-half moved to Italy in the summer of 2010 on a five-year deal. He failed to impress during his one season in Serie A, however, and, with just 15 appearances under his belt in his debut campaign, was loaned to Mallorca last term with the Spanish side given an option to make the deal permanent. Back in his native country, Flores came to the fore and was an integral part of the first-team, making 33 appearances, with his reading of the game and ability to intercept his opponents’ play one of the most impressive across Europe’s top five leagues last season.
While many fear a drop in Swansea’s potential following the departure of Brendan Rodgers, Laudrup is keen for his new charges to maintain their slick passing game as the Welsh club look to avoid “second season syndrome” after last term’s 11th place finish. His ability on the ball should see Flores fit seamlessly into the club’s system and with 14 clean sheets accrued in 2011/12, Fantasy managers may be eyeing up the Swans backline once again.
The major issue this time round is pricing, however. Michel Vorm came in at 4.0 in the previous campaign but his heroics between the posts have already seen his starting price soar this time round, with Fantasy Premier League (FPL) valuing him at 5.5. “Chico” has been handed a 5.0 starting price by the FPL in today’s published price list, putting him on a par with established starters Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor and Ashley Williams. Unless he can display some attacking threat or start soaking up some EA PPI points from king of the blocks, Williams, Flores will surely take a back seat, then.
Intriguingly, Flores has been slapped with a relatively low price in the Sky Sports game in comparison to his defensive team-mates. His 5.0 valuation is considerably less than Williams’ 6.9, with Rangel the next cheapest option at 5.7. In this game, then, the new boy looks an enticing prospect for those Fantasy managers looking for a route into Laudrup’s defence.
A kind opening schedule only furthers his appeal. Home clashes with (WHM, SUN, EVE) in the first five Gameweeks are allied with trips to QPR and Villa and offer Laudrup a strong platform to kick off his career at the Liberty Stadium in style. Whether Fantasy managers will be celebrating every Swansea clean sheet in a similar manner to last season is more than a little unlikely, though.
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For Gameweek 38
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“I am happy with the way I’ve started, but on the other hand, I should have scored four or five more, so that’s something for me to work on.”Robin Van Persie talks about his early form at United ahead of his first Manchester derby