There is nearly 1,500 miles between Madrid and Swansea but the connection between the land of the setting sun and Wales finest city is getting closer and closer. Spain currently has 17 regional areas but it seems like the city of Swansea is on the way to becoming number 18!
The Swans signing of Jordi Amat last week meant that the number of Spanish players at the club grew to 5. There is the possibility that this number will grow to 6 this week with the signing Alejandro Pozuelo who is expected to join his countrymen at the Liberty Stadium ahead of the new 2013-14 season. If you added to this number the players that have arrived from Spanish clubs then you would already be at 8 players and with the club’s management knowing the Spanish market well, there is no doubt this could grow even further.
There is no doubt that Michu captured the media’s attention last year and his 22 goals for €2m fee proved to be the bargain of the year and probably the century. Seeing Swansea get such value from Spain has encouraged other clubs to go after Spanish players with Liverpool (surprise surprise) spending big on Iago Aspas and Luis Alberto hoping they will get the same amount of goals this year.
It’s worth noting however that Michu wasn’t the only Spanish success story at Swansea City last year. The SCFC2 community were asked which other signing (after that man Michu!) made the most impact at the club last season and 16 out of the 18 fans said that Chico Flores was that man.
The pony tailed Cadiz born defender has quickly found his way into the Swans fan hearts through his committed approach and love of the term ‘you jack bastard’! Chico’s defensive links with Angel Rangel (another fantastic Spaniard who has made Swansea his home) was one of the key reasons why Swansea were defensively solid last season and the signing of Amat could make it 3 out of 4 in the Swans defence next year.
Whilst Swansea has beauty as a city and a fan base that adores its players, there is no doubt that it doesn’t have the same weather as Spain and many would suggest that the cultures are quite different too! So why do so many Spanish players settle in well at the club and why have the Swans gone so heavily into buying players from there? Here are 5 of the key reasons.
Reason 1 – The club is well known now in Spain
The appointment of Michael Laudrup, the Capital Cup win, Michu’s exploits in his first season and the amount of Spanish players we already have, will have helped to make Swansea City a well known club in Spain.
Spanish players now know who Swansea City are and know about our style of play and as Jordi Amat said in an interview yesterday ‘in Spain, Swansea are very famous now’. As more Spanish players join the club (especially those who are well known in Spain such as Michu and Pablo Hernandez) it’s likely that this fame will encourage more La Liga players to look to the nicest area of South Wales as a destination to ply their trade.
Reason 2 – Players are able settle in quickly and their mentality is right
Having 5 or 6 other same nationality players (with their accompanying wives, family and friends) already at a club makes a huge difference for someone coming over that is new to the UK. Being able to have help in your own language, meet and chat about home, share your own culture and build your own ‘ex pat’ community is key to anyone succeeding in a job overseas. Being happy and successful in any job is down to how happy you are in your personal/home life and so with the players able to settle into the area easily, there are able to show how happy they are by delivering great performances out on the pitch.
Spanish players also tend to have a different mentality about them compared to some British based players. The Spanish culture is to have a couple of glasses of wine with dinner, not to go out 2 nights a week and have 15 bottles of lager and so having players who look after themselves is a big reason for the club to continue to invest in Spanish players.
Reason 3 – Players technical ability and the Swansea style of play
There is no doubt that the style of play that the Swans have (a passing style that has been nicknamed Swansealona by many) will be another big attraction for the players.
Spain are the number 1 international side in the world and this success has been based on a passing game with every player feeling comfortable on the ball. In Spain, technical ability is more important than size and strength and the Swans share this philosophy and base their whole club development on players of all ages being able to pass and move.
If you’re a Spanish player brought up on this style and the opportunity arises to play in the Premier League, the choice of ‘pass and move’ or ‘lump it up field’ is an easy one to make. Play for Swansea and play a passing game or play for West Ham and get a sore neck watching the ball fly high above the pitch??
Reason 4 – Transfer Fees and Wage Expectations
If you combine reasons 1, 2 and 3 with the ability to earn 4 times what they currently earn then it’s easy to see why Spanish players are keen to make the move to Swansea. Very good Spanish players who play for top 10 La Liga teams don’t earn a huge amount of money in Spain.
There is not the same amount of money dished around to clubs in the way its distributed in the Premiership and so clubs like Real Betis and Real Vallecano can’t play players the money that Premier League clubs can. This means that the expectation of the players is in line with what Swansea as a club can afford which means both sides are happy. The transfer fees for the players that don’t come from Barcelona and Real Madrid are also realistic as the recent signings of Michu, Chico and Canas show.
Reason 5 –Size of the City and Type of Club
Swansea are very similar to a range of top 10 spanish clubs bar Barca and Real. Whilst the top 2 have 80,000+ fans coming to their games, other clubs tend to get gates of between 20-30,000 and the cities in which these clubs are based are very similar in size to Swansea.
This similarity allows the players to settle into the club and as the fan bases for many of these clubs tend to be quite similar to that of the Swans, the players know that if they can deliver on the pitch then they will be worshipped and adored by the Swansea public. Having your name being sung by 20,000 passionate Jacks is always good for a players confidence!!
So, with a new season nearly open us, the Spanish contingent at Swansea City has grown once again. The Jacks will be looking forward to seeing Jose Canas, Jordi Amat and hopefully Alejandro Pozuelo line up alongside Angel Rangel, Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and the marvellous Michu as the club embarks on their 3rd Premier League and their first Europa League campaign.
Whilst the club is always keen to bring the best local talent through and maintain a Welsh/GB spine within the team, there is no doubt that we COULD soon see an all-Spanish Swansea City 11 one day! If this does happen then maybe we could confirm the city and surrounding area of Swansea as the 18th regional community of Spain. Many would prefer this than being linked to Cardiff and it might encourage the Sun gods to give us the same weather!
Buena suerte a los jugadores por una temporada más exitosa en la Premier League!