Is Sigurdsson worth £50m? Everton not perturbed by Swansea price
Is Swansea City midfielder Gylfi Sigurdsson worth £50 million? Swansea seem to think so, and Everton appear ready to pay something close to that, having had a previous £40m bid rebuffed.
Swansea's logic for a price almost £20m higher than what James Rodriguez might cost Bayern Munich is simple. Without the Icelandic playmaker's nine goals and 13 assists last season, the Liberty Stadium would be hosting Championship rather than Premier League football in August. As such, any attempts to replace him will be costly.
Meanwhile, Everton are not hanging around in the transfer market: Their finances were boosted by the sale of Romelu Lukaku to Manchester United for £75m (plus add-ons) and a £60m arrangement with a Chinese bank to supplement part-owner Farhad Moshiri's heavy cash injections.
Sigurdsson, 27, fits Everton manager Ronald Koeman's template of being industrious and selfless.
"Swansea are going to lose one hell of a player, a goal-scoring creator," former Wales and Everton captain Kevin Ratcliffe, a regular visitor to the Liberty as a BBC pundit, told ESPN FC.
"He's a team player, his delivery from set pieces is excellent, he gets in some great positions, and his assists are up there with any other [Premier League players] as well. And he's a hardworking lad, a big part of that Iceland team at Euro 2016; they were such a hardworking team."
Everton seek the best available proven Premier League creative player, and Sigurdsson's assist total last season put him behind only Tottenham's Christian Eriksen (15) and Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne (18). After an indifferent spell at Tottenham from 2012 to 2014, a club looking ambitiously upward appears a good fit for Sigurdsson, despite him being settled at the South Wales club where he has been a favourite over two different spells.
"There comes a time when a player looks at what his club are bringing in, and sees what the other team that wants him are bringing in, and he decides that he wants to go," said Ratcliffe.
That appears to be Sigurdsson's realisation at Swansea, though they are driving as hard a bargain as possible for someone who is their highest-paid player, having last year signed him to a new contract that runs until 2020.
At May's end-of-season awards, Sigurdsson told fans he would leave only if Swansea decided to sell him. But despite regrets from both club and player, £50m (or near enough) seems just too good to turn down. His preference is Everton ahead of Leicester, who have also had a bid of around £40m turned down this week.
Koeman has already spent an estimated £83m on five players: Michael Keane, Jordan Pickford, Davy Klaassen, Henry Onyekuru and Sandro Ramirez. Aside from Onyekuru, who is set to be loaned next season to Anderlecht, the rest look ready to take aim at Everton's goal of reaching the Champions League for the first time in 13 season.
Swansea, meanwhile, have been slow players in the market. The sum total of arrivals have been Las Palmas midfielder Roque Mesa, who cost £11m, and free transfer Erwin Mulder, a goalkeeper from Heerenveen, plus a teenage loanee, Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham.
Jack Cork, who was Swansea's vice captain, left the club Tuesday in a £10m move to Burnley, which Ratcliffe believes is not a good sign for Swansea manager Paul Clement.
"You have to be adding to your squad, not taking away," he said.
"The owners [American duo Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan] are businessmen. They are there to make money, but it doesn't look like they have had a big enough scare last season. If you don't start buying people with a pedigree, then you will be in the same situation again."
Previously in their six-year Premier League stay, Swansea have sold star players and stayed afloat: The club lost Joe Allen to Liverpool in 2012 for £15m and Wilfried Bony to Manchester City for £28m. Last season they finished 15th, but they stayed up only after the January arrival of Clement, who became Swansea's third manager of the campaign after the sackings of Francesco Guidolin and Bob Bradley. Losing Sigurdsson will be a tougher ask; Allen and Bony were sold after Swansea finished the previous season in 11th and eighth.
On a personal note, Sigurdsson has something to prove: He will be eager to show he can thrive beyond Swansea's small pond. During his two seasons at Tottenham, Sigurdsson failed to win over managers Andre Villas-Boas and Tim Sherwood, completing just nine league matches of the 58 in which he featured. Granted, his time at Tottenham was spent at a club first dominated by Gareth Bale, and then struggling badly to replace the Welshman after his summer 2013 sale to Real Madrid.
Now, Sigurdsson's Swansea heroics have won him another chance at the bigger time, albeit for a high price.
John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.