Premier League Fantasy Preview: Swansea City
It has been a quiet summer so far at Swansea City, with coach Francesco Guidolin so far unable to make any major moves in the transfer market.
Captain Ashley Williams and goalkeeper Łukasz Fabiański both impressed at Euro 2016 and they should be full of confidence for the new Premier League season as a result, but the Welsh side need to bring in a striker otherwise they may find themselves in a relegation battle.
Guidolin may wish he had retained the services of striker Éder, who scored the winner for Portugal in the Euro 2016 final, but he was sold to Lille in a cut-price deal before the tournament.
Barcelona’s Cristian Tello was a reported target but a £15 million deal seems to have fallen through, while the club also want to bring back their former midfielder Joe Allen from Liverpool.
Likely tactics and formation
Swansea tend to line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, which can easily morph into a 4-3-3 when they are on the attack, but it is very rare for them to select more than one striker in their XI.
Pace out wide is one of the key facets of the team, while width also comes from the advancing full-backs, who are given plenty of license to go forward and join in with attacks.
The signing of Leroy Fer, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the club, adds power and drive to the Swansea midfield.
Williams and Fabiański remain two of the team’s key men and they will make up part of a strong spine, but the picture is less clear further forward.
A place will presumably be found for Fer after his loan was converted into a permanent deal, while the versatile André Ayew had a successful first season at the Liberty Stadium after he joined on a free transfer from Marseille last summer and is likely to play on the left wing, or even up front.
Fabiański is one of the Premier League’s most reliable stoppers and there are no concerns over his place in the Swansea goal.
Kristoffer Nordfeldt, a 27-year-old Sweden international, provides cover for Fabiański in the Swansea squad, while there are a number of talented young keepers at the club who will be hoping to get their chance to impress this season too.
Williams will marshall the Swans’ defence and if he can replicate his Euro 2016 performances, Guidolin’s men will be very strong at the back. New signing Mike van der Hoorn has joined from Ajax and will be jostling with Federico Fernández to play alongside Williams.
Neil Taylor and Kyle Naughton are the main full-backs in the Swansea squad, with Àngel Rangel providing cover on the right, while Naughton can operate on either side of the field.
Fer’s arrival adds energy to Swansea’s midfield and the powerful player is likely to be fielded in the central three, with Gylfi Sigurðsson pushed forward in support of the lone striker.
Jack Cork is a classy box-to-box midfielder who could operate in front of the back four, while the diminutive Leon Britton, who has represented the club in all four professional divisions, continues to offer experience and solid passing, as does the South Korea international Ki Sung-yueng.
Swansea are in the market for a new striker and until one is signed, Ayew may be asked to fill in.
Wayne Routledge and Jefferson Montero are likely to start out wide for the Swans this season, while youngster Modou Barrow has signed a new contract and will be hoping for more starts.
Ki Sung-yueng is a terrific option to have on the bench if he is not selected in Swansea’s strongest team, while Barrow is a dangerous winger who can cause lots of problems for teams as a sub.
Kyle Bartley provides cover for the back line, while Bafétimbi Gomis is the main alternative striker to Ayew currently, although he is expected to leave the club before the start of the new season.
Sigurðsson monopolises Swansea’s set-pieces and given the Iceland international’s excellent record, it is no wonder he will take the vast majority of the team’s direct free-kicks and corners.
The 26-year-old is also at the front of the queue to take penalties and he successfully converted a spot-kick for his country in their stunning run to the quarter-finals of this summer’s Euro 2016.
Williams is the main threat for Swansea from corners and indirect free-kicks and he was another Swans star to be on the scoresheet at the European Championship, as Wales reached the semis.
Guidolin is happy to leave control over transfers to chairman Huw Jenkins, but there is a lot of negotiating work to do if the squad is to be competitive in the Premier League this season.
With Gomis, Éder and Alberto Paloschi all leaving during the summer, a new striker is a must. Former Watford midfielder George Byers has joined the club, along with Tyler Reid from Manchester United, but they are not expected to feature much for the first team yet.