Prolific Michu the template for clubs in pursuit of Swansea’s Spanish flair
Soccer Angles: Striker emblematic of what is a golden era of Spanish players
That is in part why Michu is still a Swansea City player and why he will take to the Liberty Stadium this evening against Arsenal, a club said to have coveted him, as a Swan.
It feels like an appropriate nickname: Michu combines disguised power and upright style. The result is smooth effectiveness. He scored both in Swansea’s 2-0 defeat of Arsenal last season.
But for Michu to remain in South Wales there must also be something in his character, because another individual might have reacted differently to the past year. There could have been a head-turning, whispered advice, then a desire to engineer a move. Think Carlos Tevez. Think difficult.
‘Like a gift from heaven’
Instead there was constant application. It took Michu a long and indirect route to reach prominence and it appears he appreciates it all the more. He has been a sincere contributor to the resurrection of his hometown club Real Oviedo and his humility does not seem to be of the manufactured kind seen so often in public life.
He also values the presence of Laudrup in the dugout and the creative freedom he enjoys in Laudrup’s team.
But asking why Michu is still at Swansea also takes you back to Rayo and to Spain’s economy. When Michu joined Rayo after four years with Vigo in the second division, he was a free transfer. This was because (a) he was yet to blossom and (b) because La Liga is bust.
As Michu explained before the League Cup final: “There is no money now in Spain. When Rayo travelled to play Real Sociedad in San Sebastian, the journey on back roads took hours longer than it should have done because the club couldn’t afford the motorway tolls. All the people on the bus were saying, ‘This is crazy, where are we going?’ If we’d known what was happening, we’d have made a collection for the tolls.”
Hence, he added: “Rayo had no money so they sent a letter out saying I was available. Swansea’s £2 million was like a gift from heaven.”
Real Madrid and Barcelona aside, it’s still a financial struggle to simply exist in Spain. Look at Valencia and how Swansea undressed them in the Europa League 10 days ago. Valencia are insolvent.
But Swansea City are not. They had six Spaniards in their team that night, while Valencia had four.
This is a golden era of Spanish footballers, not La Liga, so we will be seeing even more of them in the Premier League due to the economic crisis. Clubs who missed out before are now combing Spain.
And Michu is the template.