Michael Laudrup’s third foray into the summer transfer market since becoming manager of Swansea has seen the Spanish attacking midfielder Michu arrive for a deal in the region of £2m. The 26-year-old – whose full name is Miguel Perez Cuesta – joins up at the Liberty Stadium on a three-year contract from La Liga side Rayo Vallecano, after his goalscoring exploits helped the Spanish side narrowly avoid relegation by a mere two points last season:
The move for Michu continues Laudrup’s policy of plundering talents that have previously caught his eye in Spain’s top-flight, with fellow new boys Jonathan De Guzman and Chico both having featured under the Dane in La Liga. Similar to De Guzman and Chico, Michu admits the allure of playing for Laudrup was simply too good an opportunity to miss:
I’m very happy. I had other offers, but I really wanted to come to Swansea because of the coach, the style of play and the Premier League. I’ve always followed the Premier League from Spain and I watched a lot of Swansea games last season. They played good football and I liked their style. I also know how Michael Laudrup’s teams play, so I’m looking forward to being part of that.
Michu began his career in the lower leagues in Spain where, as a 16-year-old, he debuted for Real Oviedo. Over the course of four campaigns, he notched 13 times in 100 appearances before being snapped up by Celta Vigo in 2007-08. Initially, he featured in the club’s “B” team but a tally of 10 goals from 28 games saw him end the campaign in the first-team at the second division side.
A modest 15 goals in 103 appearances over the next three seasons were unable to help his side win promotion to La Liga – a missed spot-kick in the 2010/11 promotion play-off against Granada proved costly as his side slipped to defeat 5-4 on penalties. Michu’s chance of playing in the Spanish top-flight was not to be denied, though; Rayo Vallecano came calling last summer after his contract with Celta expired and snapped him up on a Bosman.
Handed a role in “the hole” in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Michu was a sensation in his one and only season in La Liga. Despite their lowly league position, Vallecano racked up 53 goals – only six less than third placed Valencia – and their attacking approach helped Michu return 15 goals and three assists, making him the top scoring midfielder in Spain’s top division last time round.
Initially, many had expected De Guzman to slot into the attacking midfield position vacated by Gylfi Sigurdsson but Laudrup perhaps hinted at an alternative slot upon the player’s arrival when he stated the Dutch international could play in “anywhere in midfield”.
Michu, on the other hand, is a far more direct type of player and seems to be in the driving seat for the central role behind a lone striker as Laudrup goes about rebuilding his squad in light of Brendan Rodgers’ departure. Although his ability to create opportunities for others isn’t quite up to Sigurdsson’s level, Michu is likely to offer a substantial goal threat for the Swans; standing 6 foot 1, he’s good in the air as well as on the ground and his strong work-ethic should also stand the Spaniard in good stead as he adjusts to the rigours of the Premier League.
With both player and manager experiencing the English top-flight for the first time, there’s some trepidation as to how quickly the Welsh club will settle under Laudrup but the Dane has already spelled out his intention to maintain the same shape and style of play from last term, suggesting the transition could well be seamless. Already, Michu is garnering plenty of attention, despite the fact he has yet to be added to the Fantasy Premier League (FPL) game; bearing in mind that De Guzman came in at 6.0, a similar cost looks on the cards, though. The Spaniard has been handed a 5.5 valuation in the Sky Sports game, offering us a viable mid-price Fantasy contender for the season ahead.
Casting an eye over the fixture list, Swansea have been afforded one of the kindest opening schedules of any side. Over the first eight Gameweeks, they play at home five times – with (WHM, SUN, EVE, RDG, WIG) all visiting the Liberty Stadium, in addition to trips to QPR, Villa and Stoke, some level of investment in Laudrup’s troops seems a sensible tactic. If Michu can settle quickly and replicate his Vallecano form, Swansea – and Fantasy managers – may well have found their Sigurdsson replacement for the season ahead.
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