The Importance of Keeping Bony
With the dust settled on a season of change for Swansea, eyes must begin to wander towards the 2014/15 campaign, and how they can progress.
May 27th, 2014
A strong end to the season saw them win three of their last four games and finish in 12th place, a mid-table slot which perhaps belies the troubles they faced throughout the 38 games. Garry Monk has, despite splitting opinion during his caretaker reign, been given the job on a permanent basis, but it’s off the field that the former club captain faces perhaps his biggest test.
Wilfried Bony arrived amid much fanfare last summer, with the Swans splashing out a club record £12m transfer fee to secure his services from Vitesse. The Ivorian striker had long been linked with a move to the Premier League; his power, pace and skill were considered an ideal fit for the English game, and so it proved. In his first season in South Wales he has scored 16 Premier League goals, and 22 in all competitions – figures which have naturally attracted the attention of clubs higher up the food chain.
There is talk of a £25m price tag having been placed on his head by the club hierarchy, in an effort to ward off the advances of Arsenal and Liverpool, both of whom have been linked with a move for him. It’s no surprise whatsoever that, as he prepares to shine on the world stage in Brazil, clubs looking to strengthen their squads ahead of next season’s Champions League have turned their eyes towards him – for Liverpool he would provide a different option to their current attacking talents of Luis Suarez, Daniel Sturridge and Raheem Sterling, while Arsenal’s need for someone to take the burden off Olivier Giroud is obvious.
If Swansea are to progress as a club though, and reach a point where they can consistently finish in the top half of the league and challenge for European qualification, it is exactly these sort of moves that they must resist. Should Bony move on, it would be all too easy to begin to see Swansea as a stepping stone club, with Joe Allen already having left for a title challenge at Liverpool. But should they manage to keep hold of a striker who, at just 25 years old, has his best years still ahead of him (despite having scored over 75 goals in the past three seasons), then they start to become a serious proposition.
While Michu had an injury-hit campaign this time around, as did Michel Vorm, the Spaniard will be aiming to hit the heights of his first season with Swansea. Should he do so, then along with Vorm, Jonjo Shelvey – who shined after joining from Liverpool last summer – Neil Taylor and Pablo Hernandez, Monk has the start of a very able side, before any additions are made in the summer transfer window.
Should the best case scenario unfold, and Swansea keep their best talent – and Monk remains hopeful that a deal can be agreed for Jonathan de Guzmán to spend a third season on loan from Villarreal – while adding a few more players of quality, such as the rumoured bid for Crystal Palace’s Jonny Williams, then next season will be one when they can focus on closing the gap on those ahead of them, rather than looking nervously over their shoulder.