With the influx of Spaniards brought in to Swansea by Michael Laudrup, there were no surprises when another signed for the Swans this summer. Alex Pozuelo made the move from Real Betis, where he made 11 appearances last season, for an undisclosed fee during the last transfer window, bringing with him a reputation for flair and pace.
Following the success of Michu and co last year, Swansea were keen to supplement their big Spanish base with further additions, and it was an injury to the aforementioned attacker that allowed Pozuelo to make his full Premier League debut last weekend.
Michu picked up a knock in the game against Cardiff which rendered him unavailable for the following weekend’s clash with Stoke and Pozuelo was chosen to replace the Swans’ top scorer last season.
Pozuelo has started all four of Swansea’s Europa League games so far this season and has racked up the most assists in the competition with three. He has proved a perpetual threat on the ball and the attacking outlet which he provides has seen Pozuelo create a total of 11 chances – this is the biggest total in the Swansea squad and five more than Michu. This suggests that the former Real Betis man will be an adept replacement for his compatriot during his spell on the sidelines.
Moreover, the 22-year-old is an extremely exciting dribbler and will provide defences with countless problems as they attempt to keep their feet properly aligned against Pozuelo’s skills. In the Europa League, he has been successful with 58% of his take-on attempts, beating men 11 times and proving a perpetual threat. This is a skill which Michu does not possess, and means that, in his absence, Pozuelo will give Swansea a dimension which is currently not utilised.
Pozuelo’s passing ability will also strengthen his Swansea side. Against Stoke, the Spaniard completed 44/50 (86%) passes and linked up play between attack and defence extremely well; his ability to complete short, sharp passes suited Laudrup’s mentality and ensured that the absence of Michu was not too serious for the Jacks. Indeed, he created two chances and provided an excellent attacking outlet for Laudrup’s men.
However, one area in which Pozuelo lags behind Michu is in goalscoring ability. The latter was a revelation last year as he struck 18 league goals in just 35 matches – a ratio of just over a goal every two games – and has scored four times in the Premier League and Europa League so far this season. In contrast, Pozuelo scored just once last season and is yet to bag in 2013-14; this suggests that the Spaniard does not possess the eye for goal which his compatriot is blessed with, something which could slightly take the edge off Swansea’s attacks.
Michu’s spectacular debut season
Michu’s absence may not be as damaging to Swansea as it originally appeared to be. Whilst the Spaniard is a key component of Laudrup’s side, his younger compatriot has many of the same skills as him and even provides his team with an extra, exciting option which Michu does not. Pozuelo has so far proved to be a neat addition to the Swansea set-up and the opportunity which Michu’s injury provides could even strengthen the Jacks in the long term by enabling the 22-year-old to feature more often.