With so much attention surrounding the ongoing Gylfi Sigurdsson saga, it is easy to forget that if it wasn’t for our dire defensive record last season, we wouldn’t have been so heavily reliant on the contributions of Sigurdsson and Llorente.
It goes without saying that the uncertain future of two of the Swans’ key figures from last season’s campaign is having an impact on our transfer business. Recruitment in defence however, is something that will clearly need addressing no matter who is doing the business at the other end of the pitch come the start of the season.
It was only Hull City who conceded more than the Swans’ combined 70 goals last season – a figure even higher than that of rock-bottom Sunderland. That stat alone makes our Premier League survival all the more extraordinary.
Blame it on Francesco Guidolin, blame it on Bob Bradley, but the players cannot entirely escape the blame for such a poor defensive record last season. The club found a gem in Alfie Mawson and, by all accounts, were handed a get out of jail card when he outperformed most Swans’ defenders over the past few years.
With Mawson looking likely to stay in South-Wales despite rumours linking him to the likes of Tottenham, it is vital that we look to make the most of his talent by allowing him to focus on his game. This can’t be done with the pressures that come with a season like the one we’ve just scraped through.
Federico Fernandez improved drastically under Paul Clement’s guidance last season, but I still find it hard to convince myself that he can find a consistently high level of performance over the course of a season. Kyle Bartley, despite being at the club since 2012, is still very much an unknown quantity in the Premier League. He had a solid season at the back for Leeds in the Championship last season, but has shown previously that he can’t hack it in the Premier League.
Jordi Amat has been shipped out on loan after years of scarce, underwhelming performances – but is Kyle Bartley really any better? I can’t see it myself.
What’s most worrying at the moment is the lack of talk around defensive additions. Holger Badstuber is a name that’s been mentioned as one of Clement’s Bayern Munich links, though that’s been nothing but speculation. Martin Skrtel’s name was also mentioned, but that was alway a bit of a strange one.
There’s still a fair bit of time left until the season kicks off, but the Swans’ have left themselves with plenty of work to do until then. Whether Sigurdsson and Llorente decide to leave or not, our defensive issues need to be addressed soon – or we may not be so lucky come the end of next season.