Earlier today Tottenham Hotspur and Swansea City confirmed a deal that saw Gylfi Sigurdsson and an undisclosed fee head to the Liberty Stadium in exchange for Michel Vorm and Ben Davies.
The swap is a rare and interesting play that’s seldom seen in the world of soccer because it’s so difficult to measure the impact and value of one player with that of another. The number of factors that enter into the formula for a player’s value is infinite and when trying to do that for three players seems like an exercise of impossibility.
And yet somehow, Tottenham and Swansea have seemingly carved out a mutually beneficial deal.
But how so? Surely one of these clubs enjoyed the sweeter side of this deal and here we set out to see who it was.
Spurs addressed two major needs with the move — finding a sure-fire starter at left-back and a backup goalkeeper who will push Hugo Lloris. Ask a Tottenham fan what went wrong last year and he’ll politely hand you a novel of quips with chapter one reading: Our need for a top left-back.
Jan Vertonghen, a better center-back than left-back, made himself dangerous in that position early last season before a midseason injury derailed that option. With Danny Rose in the Belgian’s place things were decent but hardly on lock-down status as Rose struggled with inconsistency and fitness issues, which then left Spurs with Kyle Naughton as the most viable option. Not good predicament to be in.
The 25-year-old Naughton, who can play either left or right back, struggled to fit in and became a target for opposing team’s to attack. Things grew so dire, in fact, that 21-year-old Ezequiel Fryers was given a go before he, too, imploded. That, in turn, led to rampant and unbridled exposure on the left side of the pitch, much to the delight of opposing clubs.
Now, with the highly-sought-after Davies in place, Spurs believe they’ve found their cure. Inserted into Swansea’s side two years ago at the tender age of 19, the skillful and aware Welshman performed brilliantly, locking down the left-side while proving himself dangerous on the counter. He’s one of the many great Welsh talents on the rise and now, under new Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino, many feel the sky is the limit. Time will only tell but Spurs were in desperate need of a left-back and have fought off the likes of Liverpool to address the issue. A fantastic pull.
Vorm’s decision to move to North London is an interesting for a variety of reasons, not the least because it means that American Brad Friedel will now become the third-choice goalkeeper. Friedel was brilliant in the back-up roll last season, giving Lloris a rest during matches outside the Premier League but never really threatening to take the Frenchman’s spot. In Vorm, Spurs have found a goalkeeper who will not only fill in during Europa League, League Cup and FA Cup matches when needed but could foreseeably challenge Lloris for the starting role in league matches. Which is exactly what manager Mauricio Pochettino wanted in a backup. And what Vorm lacks in size he makes up for in superlative cat-like reflexes. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better starter/backup goalkeeper duo in the Premier League.
Pochettino won’t love that he had to deal Sigurdsson but giving up a substitute for a starting left-back and a stellar back-up goalkeeper was worth it. In two seasons with Spurs, Sigurdsson scored eight goals in 58 top-flight appearances, many of which proved to be match-winners off the bench. But a plethora of midfielders meant that Sigurdsson’s main role at Spurs was as a super-sub, one that some people will feel he deserved better than.
At Swansea, he’ll have the chance of becoming an everyday starter. Capable of playing anywhere across the attacking three, Sigurdsson will need to prove himself if he’s to get the starting nod amidst the likes of Nathan Dyer, Ki Sung-Yeung, Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo and Wayne Routledge. Of course, it was only three years ago when Sigurdsson enjoyed his breakout in the Premier League, scoring seven goals in 18 matches while on loan with the Swans so finding top form shouldn’t take long.
But was Swansea in desperate need of another attacking midfielder?
Not really. More pressing was the call for a striker when either Wilfried Bony or Michu (or both) end up leaving this summer for greener pastures. Bold move for manager Garry Monk.
And what about that fee? Most sources are labeling it “undisclosed” but the Daily Mail claim Swansea pocketed $6 million in addition to the swap. Not a bad bit of business for the Swans but does that extra cash make up for the fact that they parted with two key players to obtain an attacking midfielder who wasn’t really needed?
Hard to say Spurs didn’t come out on top in this deal.