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May 13, 2014

Swans look to a future with Bony

If the Swans final home fixture had been a non-event with a bad ending, then their final game proper -- away to Sunderland -- was the opposite. Swansea finished the season in style, 3-1, with a now routine goal from Wilfried Bony capping off a season which the Ivorian played a big part in saving.

As those players lucky enough to be going to Brazil for the World Cup swap club colours for those of their countries, managers like Garry Monk begin the process of re-shaping their squads for next season.

Monk might worry that after such a great first season in British football, even the briefest glimpse of further quality from Bony on the world stage will see the Swans star striker leave for a bigger club. But for the time being at least, Bony has pledged his commitment to the Swans' cause, suggesting he is happy to stay at the club for the term of his contract.

Assuming Bony is good for his word, that's one sizeable headache Monk will be glad to avoid; he's already got enough to deal with. A large part of the squad Monk inherited from Michael Laudrup is still composed of primarily Spanish players the Dane brought to South Wales during his tenure. Players like Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo have evidentially fallen out of favour with the new management regime, and their futures at the club are more than uncertain.

A bigger problem might be Michu. The Spaniard's season was completely derailed by repeated injuries, and any hopes of a continuation of form from his excellent first season were ended early on.

There are still whispers that a certain Russian club might come in with a bid, and having proved they can win without him, Swansea might be a little more willing to sell than they were this time last year. I'd like to imagine a season-long Bony-Michu partnership would be worth holding on for, but we'll see.

Along the fringes, loan players Alvaro Vasquez and Roland Lamah will not be coming back, and neither will forgotten man Leroy Lita or January stop-gap signing David N'Gog. Marvin Emnes, however, probably ought to be offered a contract.

The former Middlesbrough man has looked capable of late, and his goal against Sunderland proved he can play an effective game behind Bony; Emnes' striker instincts of old means he gets into the box a lot, allowing the Swans 4-2-3-1 system to flex easily into a 4-4-2. His ability to play on the wing only makes him more useful. He'll cost nothing as he's out of contract, and would probably be more than happy to accept a low basic wage on a heavily incentivised contract. It's the Swansea way, after all.

Swansea's goalkeeper and left back situations will also need some careful management. When asked, Garry Monk did not refute his rumoured interest in signing Arsenal backup Lucasz Fabianski, with Fabianski apparently hungry for regular first-team football.

That would point to a departure for Michel Vorm, as goalkeeping tandems seldom work in football. Vorm wouldn't be any happier being a backup than Fabianski is, although Liverpool are apparently ready to offer Vorm the chance to be just that, only probably for considerably more money.

At left back, Neil Taylor is still second fiddle to Ben Davies, and although Taylor's ability to also play on the right would make him the ideal man to deputise both Davies and Angel Rangel simultaneously, it seems more likely he'll want a first team place to call his own.

Southampton will soon have a Luke Shaw-shaped hole to fill at left back and 27-odd million pounds to help them fill it. Either Swansea left back would be a good fit there. Of course, neither is the kind of player Swansea should want to let go, so Monk's persuasion skills might be put into practice as he attempts to convince Taylor to stay this summer.

It'll be an interesting off-season to watch in Swansea, and player movement looks inevitable. Canas, Pozuelo, N'Gog, Lita and Vasquez were lately all players taking up a roster spot whilst clearly not being part of Monk's plans. That's five spaces on a 25-man squad effectively going to waste.

If this season should have taught Swansea anything, it's the value of squad depth -- not just depth on paper, but depth that can play. Monk will understand that, and should seek to fill the Swansea squad with players who can do more than feature as occasional late relief. With a renovated squad in place, Swansea should be able to target deep cup runs and a comfortable mid-table finish next season.