The news that Icelandic midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson has penned a new four-year contract with Swansea City will come as a welcome boost for everyone involved at the Welsh club.
Sigurdsson, who signed from Tottenham Hotspur in 2014, was an instant hit on his return to the Swans after a successful loan spell with them in 2012 where he scored seven times in 17 games. Since his return, Sigurdsson has been an instrumental cog in the Swansea midfield, providing slick passing, incisive runs and intelligent use of the ball.
His return from Spurs involved left-back Ben Davies going the other way and since then he has scored 11 times and assisted three goals. In a season in which Swansea were hovering hazardously above the relegation zone, he provided welcome relief for the Swans.
However, since the end of the European Championships, there has been something of an exodus at Swansea with their forwards ravaged. Portugal’s hero of the Euros final Eder left for Lille, while Bafétimbi Gomis, who has had a difficult time at Swansea recently, left for Marseille on loan. This follows the departure of Italian forward Alberto Paloschi to Atalanta which has left the Swans without a senior striker in their squad.
Swansea then missed out on re-signing Welsh midfielder Joe Allen, who chose to instead pen a deal at Stoke in a project that looks set to grow under Mark Hughes’ management. While in the last day, rumours have developed that club captain Ashley Williams is set to leave the club for Everton in a £10 million deal.
Iceland's Gylfi Sigurdsson attends a news conference
The mass exit of strikers is not Swansea’s biggest problem though as the three were not scoring regularly in the league. Allen, who played for Swansea between 2007-2012, would have been a coup for Swansea, especially considering his performances in the European Championships, but again, missing out on him is not a killer blow for the Swans.
Swansea real problem comes in a two-pronged form. First, they look set to lose Williams. Excluding the fact he is a fantastic defender that is very skilled with his feet, he is first and foremost their leader. While money can buy a lot of things, it isn’t something that always brings in leadership and, if it does, it costs a huge amount of money. £10 million for one of the Premier League’s best defenders seems like a steal on Everton’s part.
Wales' Ashley Williams attends a news conference
The second problem is that with so many senior players leaving the club, what sort of example does it set for younger players in the team? If they see their talismanic leader leaving for Everton, a side that struggled last year, it will have players believing that Swansea are merely a platform for a move elsewhere.
That is why Swansea’s move to keep their most creative player at the club is so vital. It shows the fans and players that the management and owners of Swansea City are not looking to sell their players as soon as an offer is submitted. Swansea must not rest on their laurels now though. Their next moves must be to sign a striker that will score them goals and a central defender that will keep them out.