I must admit I had no idea Laudrup was even interested in Bartley, the Dane has gone about his business reasonably quietly in this transfer window and has snapped up the Northerner for a nominal fee. Bartley has come to Swansea looking for first team action in the Premier league and while he admits it was a tough decision for him to leave Arsenal; he is excited to have the opportunity to further his career at Swansea.
“It was the toughest decision of my life. But it is a permanent deal. And I’m now raring to go with Swansea.” he said.
“That’s what I want to do as a 21-year-old, I just want to play games and at Swansea I should have a good chance of doing that.”
A little bit of background on the man himself, the Stockport born defender joined the Gunners from Bolton Wanderers in 2007 and made his professional debut in 2009 in the champion’s league at Olympiakos. Despite captaining the Gunners youth side to a youth FA Cup win in 2009, opportunities were limited, and that game in Greece proved to be his one and only senior appearance for the North London side. He was sent out on loan to Sheffield United in February 2010 where he featured regularly for the Blades. Bartley went out on loan again to Sheffield the following season and was a regular fixture in defence for them.
Having returned to Arsenal in January 2011 Bartley was soon on his way again as he moved to SPL side Rangers at the end of the winter transfer window, where he scored his first senior goal in a game at St Mirren. Bartley spent the 2011-2012 season on loan at Ibrox and made nineteen appearances for Rangers. He had signed a new contract with the Gunners and taken part in their pre-season campaign in the build up to this season, but having been offered a chance to further his career at the Liberty, he has decided a new challenge would be right for him.
When I sat down to write this piece I realised I knew little about Bartley’s attributes as a player, so I went out in search of someone who would be able to give the Jackarmy some proper information on our new arrival. Arseblog, a premier site for Arsenal fans kindly agreed to answer some of my questions and give Swansea fans an insight into what we can expect from Bartley in a white shirt.
Now he has arrived in South Wales what can Swansea fans expect from him? Arseblog gives us his thoughts:
ESV: How do Arsenal fans feel about Bartley’s departure? Was he viewed as a real prospect for the future?
Arseblog: I don’t think there’ll be too many tears. That’s not to say he wasn’t liked but I think there’s too much quality ahead of him and the reality is we saw very little of him in an Arsenal shirt. The overriding feeling was that he wasn’t ever going to be quite good enough.
ESV: Do Arsenal fans feel Bartley has the potential to be a regular first team player in the Premier league? Or did he find his level with Rangers in the SPL?
Arseblog: He’s still quite young, and centre-half is a position you really need to mature and develop into, so the issue was whether or not he was going to play enough at Arsenal for that to happen. I think he’s got a lot to learn still but playing regularly should help.
ESV: What attributes does the player possess that can make him a first team regular in the premier league for Swansea?
Arseblog: He’s big, physical, quite quick and should be comfortable on the ball, which will suit the way you play.
ESV: Bartley is listed as a centre back, can he cover other positions?
Arseblog: He has played at right back for Rangers and also as a holding midfielder, but I think he needs to settle down as a centre-half now.
ESV: Finally, what does Bartley need to add to his game to maximise the potential Arsene Wenger saw in him?
I guess he’s got to knuckle down and work hard. He had two loan spells, at Sheffield United and Rangers, and did ok, but not much more than that. But obviously Arsene Wenger saw potential in him when he signed him from Bolton. He’s at a crucial point of his career, not quite make or break, but Swansea is a great chance for him to establish himself as a Premier League player but it won’t come without the right attitude.
From this interview alone it strikes me that Bartley has been brought in as defensive cover with the hope that he can become a first team regular in future. Despite his age (21) Bartley has more experience than a lot of Premier League youngsters his age. His knowledge of the first team football in the Premier League may be limited at present; but he has experience of playing in the SPL and in the Old Firm derbies, which will stand him in good stead. While he is still a raw talent playing week in week out at the top alongside the likes of Ashley Williams will help develop his game and should soon see him showcasing the talent that persuaded Arsene Wenger to take him to Arsenal.
The style of play that he has been schooled in at Arsenal should aid his integration into ‘The Swansea Way’ and for me he should slot seamlessly into our style, which explains why Laudrup has brought him in. He can provide cover at fullback and has even dabbled in holding midfield which gives Laudrup some options. Having missed the five-nil triumph over Queens Park Rangers he will be raring to go and should be in contention to feature against West Ham United.
It may be some time before we see Bartley’s true potential, but I think this is an exciting piece of business by Michael Laudrup. Bartley is still a young man learning the game but is eager to prove himself at the highest level and will be relishing the opportunity to play a part in our premier league campaign. Let’s hope the potential that Arsene Wenger saw in him five years ago shines through under Laudrup.
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