Michu's exit signals Swansea's uncertain future
The ill-fated "Bony-M" connection that looked so promising for Swansea this time last year appears to be finished before it ever really started. Michu -- the "M" part of the equation -- looks set for a loan spell in Napoli, but the more pressing question is whether Swansea can keep hold of striker Wilfried Bony.
After a World Cup which all but rang the death knell for the classic No. 9, it seems slightly strange to see Bony's name so readily circulated.
After all, Bony is an unfashionably classic striker, even if his contribution to team play is often underreported. While he is a perfect fit for Swansea, he would seem like an awkward replacement for Luis Suarez at Liverpool, especially considering how eager Brendan Rodgers was to discard Andy Carroll.
I'm a Carroll fan, and although Bony is better, both players are functionally target men -- back-to-the-goal types who bring others into play, strong, physical, good-in-the-air and so on. Suarez is a different player. The shifty Uruguayan is more false No. 9 than a classic one, and with a blooming Daniel Sturridge growing into the central striker slot at Anfield, I don't see where Bony fits in.
Add Rickie Lambert, the likely signing of Divock Origi and rumoured interest in Jay Rodriguez to the mix, and the likelihood of Liverpool spending upwards of 20 or 25 million pounds on a third striker seems dubious at best. What's more, is it too soon for Bony?
The Ivorian had a fantastic first season in the Premier League, but a move to a top side now would seem like him merely competing for a starting place rather than guaranteed one.
Buying clubs might even be wary of Bony being a one-season-wonder (see: Cisse, Papiss). This could limit how much they're prepared to pay, or entice an incentive-laden offer which could be sabotaged if the striker isn't given enough chance to satisfy the criteria.
If Bony stays with Swansea and his second season matches are better than his first, he'll be bought outright as a starting striker instead of a squad addition, and Swansea will be able to command nearer 30 million pounds than 20.
Reason points to a second season in a Swansea shirt, but money is an more powerful agent. Whatever the case, Swansea's early acquisition of French striker Bafetimbi Gomis should offer some security.
Michu's story is an even sorrier state of affairs altogether. The golden boy of Swansea not 12 months ago, he is now on the verge of Italian exile. Last season was an injury stricken write-off for the Spaniard, but even when he fleetingly returned to the team, he cut a sombre figure, disillusioned rather than dangerous, petulant instead of prolific.
It seems more than likely that Michu's dissatisfaction is connected to the Michael Laudrup saga of last season. The looming Spanish exodus of Laudrup signings -- Pablo Hernandez, Jose Canas and Alejandro Pozuelo are all slated to leave -- only underlines the truth behind the apparent rumours of squad disharmony and splits in the camp last season.
Once valued at 20 million pounds, Michu had been bought for barely a tenth of that sum. It seems Swansea are now happy to take whatever they can get for the midfielder, who only two seasons ago netted 18 times in the Premier League.
What's more, nobody seems to care.
There has seldom been a better example of the "what have you done for me lately?" attitude of the sports fan, and for me, probably should have done far more to appease Michu and keep him in a Swansea shirt.
The rumoured professional excuse is that Michu's injuries are chronic, serious enough to have made the Swans top brass decide to palm Michu off on any half-serious bidder lest they end up paying for a treatment room fixture for the next three years.
Of course, Napoli are equally as shrewd, and are demanding a season-long loan to test the water (and the knees and ankles) first.
Swansea already need to bolster their midfield, add another winger, resolve the Ben Davies situation and probably agree to a fee with someone for Michel Vorm.
Finding a replacement for Bony might be one task too many with the season barely a month away, and given it was his goals that kept Swansea up last season (and Michu's the season before). Losing both players would seem like a very bold move at this point in time.
Club Chairman Huw Jenkins seems committed to fighting for Bony, so it's likely he will stay. Until January at least.
Sportswriter and ESPN FC correspondent for Swansea City. Follow him on Twitter @maxwellhicks