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Six options to replace Gylfi Sigurdsson if Swansea let the numbers decide

2017-07-13 17:57:20 | Author:Greg Johnson | Source:squawka
Abstract:Even in the overheated transfer market of the Premier League the £50 million price tag that Swansea City have slapped on the head of Gylfi Sigurdsson this summer sticks out as a sign of the times.

In years gone by, such a figure would have been seen as an absurd response designed to tell other clubs that the player is not available to purchase.

Yet Everton are expected to meet the valuation to take the Iceland international to Goodison Park as the new creative focal point of Ronald Koeman’s rebuilt team. It will be a watershed moment for teams outside of the top six if and when he signs, and the 27-year-old will not be easy to replace.

After all, Sigurdsson is no ordinary playmaker. He is six-foot-one, makes an average of two defensive actions per game, and made 45 tackles last season – the same amount as Antonio Rudiger, Daley Blind, Glenn Whelan and Thomas Meunier.

With a tally of nine league goals and 13 assists for the Swans, in a troubled campaign that almost saw the south Wales club relegated from the Premier League, the midfielder was joint fifth across Europe’s top five divisions for goals created.

Only Montpellier’s Morgan Sanson, Christian Eriksen and Kevin De Bruyne, and Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig were responsible for setting up more goals last season, from open play and dead ball situations. A set piece specialist, no player has scored more goals from freekicks than Sigurdsson since the 2011/12 campaign, with seven.

SWANSEA, WALES - MAY 06: <a href=http://en.13322.com/data/player-1194_29099.html target=

It would be easy to link the Swans to all and sundry, and suggest they sign players who are likely to be out of reach regardless of the extra income they have brought in through the Premier League’s ever-increasing TV deals, but Paul Clement’s side must still be smart and resourceful in the transfer market.

Their successes in recent years has partly come through pulling a series of metaphorical rabbits out of the hat such as Michu, Wilfried Bony and Sigurdsson. Survival was assured in 2017 but the impact made by Alfie Mawson, Fernando Llorente, Martin Olsson and Tom Carroll to ensure the Icelandic playmaker’s efforts weren’t for naught.

Below are six creative suggestions for replacement creators to fill the void that will be left by his absence at the Liberty Stadium.

Thomas Mangani

<a href=http://en.13322.com/data/team-304.html target=

Age: 30
Position: Central midfielder
Club: Angers
Key stat: Mangani created 98 chances in Ligue 1 last season. Only Ryad BoudebouzDimitri Payet, Christian Eriksen, Kevin De Bruyne and Mesut Ozil created more in Europe’s top five leagues.

The French midfielder averaged three defensive actions last season for Angers, one more per game than Sigurdsson made for Swansea, as he supplied eight assists and scored three goals – two of which were dispatched from the penalty spot – to help the Ligue 1 club to a 12th-placed position and the final of the French Cup.

A set piece specialist in his own right, the 30-year-old has been linked with moves to other top flight clubs in France this summer but would be a solid option to bring in to take the Iceland international’s place for the Swans.

Robert Snodgrass

LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 05: <a href=http://en.13322.com/data/player-62_13086.html target=

Age: 29
Position: Attacking midfielder
Club: West Ham
Key stat: Snodgrass has scored six freekicks in the Premier League, equal to Sigurdsson’s record at dead ball situations since 2012/13.

The Scot only arrived at London Stadium in January 2017 from Hull City but after failing to impress during his short time so far with the Irons, perhaps Slaven Bilic could be convinced to cut his losses on the former Leeds United and Norwich City creator?

Snodgrass’ focus is getting the ball and slinging in a ball from wide or finding a team mate with a killer ball. He does less defensive work than some of Swansea’s other potential options in this list, and averaged only one defensive action in the Premier League for Hull and West Ham.

Yet the Scotland international’s crossing would be a good fit for the aerial presence up front of Llorente or Tammy Abraham, on-loan from Chelsea for the season.

Hakim Ziyech

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - FEBRUARY 23: Hakim Ziyech of Ajax is watched by Mihail Aleksandrov of Legia Warszawa during the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second leg match between Ajax Amsterdam and Legia Warszawa at Amsterdam Arena on February 23, 2017 in Amsterdam, <a href=http://en.13322.com/data/team-646.html target=

Age: 24
Position: Central midfielder
Club: Ajax
Key stat: Ziyech created the most chances (112) in the Eredivisie last season and was also top for assists (12). He was also the most creative player in the Europa League, with 40 chances created in 13 European appearances.

In his first season in Amsterdam, the Morocco international inspired Peter Bosz’s side to the final of the Europa League and second place in the Dutch top flight.

A deceptively strong competitor with or without the ball, he put in 97 tackles last season in the Eredivisie although he averaged only one defensive action per game, but attempted 105 take ons from midfield, completing 49.

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He is a work in progress, and at 24 is still to reach his peak. Prior to joining Ajax, he had been the stand-out player for a beleaguered FC Twente side, scoring 17 goals and creating 10 assists in his final season with the former champions.

Ziyech followed that campaign up with seven goals and 11 assists in Amsterdam, and following Bosz’s defection to Borussia Dortmund after only one season as manager, who’s to say it wouldn’t be possible to convince the playmaker of making a quick move abroad of his own?

Valter Birsa

CROTONE, ITALY - OCTOBER 30: <a href=http://en.13322.com/data/player-554_94306.html target=

Age: 30
Position: Winger
Club: Chievo
Key stat: Birsa was ranked sixth for chances created in Serie A last season despite playing for a club that finished 14th in the league.

Closing in on 100 league games for Chievo following a spell with Milan, 30-year-old Slovenian international Birsa is another experienced hand that Swansea could turn to, rather than a solution to sort out their creative needs in the long-term.

Yet there are reasons for Paul Clement’s team to take an interest. The winger knows what it’s like to shoulder the responsibility of finding the goals for a club in need of inspiration. He was directly responsible for 37.21% of Chievo’s league goals last season, with seven goals and nine assists, and also put in an average of two defensive actions per game.

The Slovenian is also another playmaker who likes to fire in the sort of crosses that Llorente and Ambraham could benefit from and hit forward balls to try and get his team up the pitch to hit opponents on the counter or over the top.

Jonathan Viera

Age: 27
Position: Winger
Club: Las Palmas
Key stat: Only Lionel Messi played more through balls in La Liga last season (44) than Viera (22).

Swansea have already made one key signing in midfield this summer in Roque Mesa, a player hailed by his most enamored followers as “the Canarian Xavi”. Quite the billing.

Yet while Xavi had Andres Iniesta at Barcelona, Mesa had Jonathan Viera at Las Palmas. While the deep-lying midfielder took care of recycling possession and controlling games, his more advanced colleagues attempted to force chances into being in the final third.

Perhaps it would be wise to try and replicate a similar set-up in south Wales with two players who know each other’s games inside out? In Viera, Swansea could double up on a combination of control and creativity that has already been proven to work in La Liga, with a final tally of seven goals and seven assists last season.

Zlatko Junuzovic

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Age: 29
Position: Central midfielder
Club: Werder Bremen
Key stat: Junuzovic has scored five goals from freekicks in the Bundesliga since 2012/13, just one less than Sigurdsson has managed in the Premier League during that period.

An Austrian international who has been at Werder Bremen since 2012 and who poses a threat from set pieces while taking care of business in open play. He recorded an average of four defensive actions in the Bundesliga last season and popped up with four goals and eight assists.

The 29-year-old’s qualities have not been overlooked. He is hotly tipped to join Trabzonspor this summer, but if Swansea like what they see they could surely convince the midfielder that his future is better served with a move to the Premier League.

Related Information:

Gylfi Sigurdsson