In a Summer of complete turmoil, the one silver lining was the record signing of Borja Baston. The Spaniard, who had been on fire for Eibar the season before, joined for £15.5m but has failed to live up to his price tag since arriving on SA1.
Hopes were high for Borja, who’s transfer was dragged out with his parent club Atletico keen to add a buy-back clause to the striker’s contract at the Swans. No such clause was added and, after the season he’s had, the Spanish club will probably be grateful.
Borja hasn’t been given much of a chance on the field. He’s made just four starts in the Premier League, with former bosses Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley both giving him two starts apiece. His one goal came at the Emirates Stadium, where he came off the bench to score a consolation goal in 3-2 loss.
He is yet to start a game under Paul Clement, but the short appearances he has made have perhaps indicated exactly why that is. Whenever he’s come on – albeit for a limited amount of time – he’s been far from threatening. Clement’s choice to bring on Jordan Ayew for an injured Llorente on Saturday is further proof that Borja’s quality in the Spanish league hasn’t carried over to the Premier League.
His signing was an odd one in the first place. After completing a deal to bring World Cup winning striker Fernando Llorente to the club, it was never likely that he would settle for a bit-part role in the side. £15.5m is a lot of money to spend on an understudy.
He’s strong and a natural goalscorer and could fit well into the Premier League… but it’s odd to sign both Llorente and Borja. They are both strikers whole prefer to play as the lone striker, close to the opposite goal.
It was thought for a while that the forward was unhappy when he first joined, finding it difficult to gel with the squad while recovering from an injury which kept him sidelined for the opening weeks of the season. Francesco Guidolin admitted that the striker was lacking in confidence, and that he was “a bit worried”. Several months and two changes in manager later, and I can’t imagine that Borja’s feelings have changed that much.
The comparisons between him and Llorente looked to have worked in his favour when the Swans’ top goalscorer went down with a dead leg just thirty minutes into Saturday’s game at the KC Stadium. I’d have put money on Borja being used as a like-for-like replacement at half-time, but Paul Clement opted to shake things up by bringing on January signing Jordan Ayew.
We’ll never know whether Borja would have give us more of an attacking threat against Hull, but what looks almost certain is that his time at Swansea is going to come to a premature end. Linked with Valencia in January, I can’t imagine him turning down the chance to return to his home country after what has been a nightmare season in the Premier League for him.
The way things stand, it looks like the Swans’ will have little choice but to cut their losses on Borja in the Summer. If we can recoup even half of what we originally paid for him I’d be happy, and then there’s the case of signing someone who can fill the void he’ll leave in the squad.
The board will also be conscious of Llorente’s age, knowing that they may need to start considering a long-term replacement for the former Juventus man. Though 33 next year, they will also be aware of the interest surrounding Llorente in the January transfer window and will be keen to keep hold of him for next season.