Preperations must begin for Swans Euro trip

Posted by Max Hicks

Swansea's League Cup victory provided the club with its first major silverware, Michael Laudrup with some first-season success and Garry Monk with a moment to cap off his Swans career. Beyond the big day lies the promise of European adventure and whispers about the futures of certain Swansea stars and Laudrup himself.

Laudrup's quick success at Swansea will not have gone unnoticed by the big clubs (or just about anyone else for that matter). Rumours still persist that he will become Real Madrid's next manager in the summer, and even Laudrup has admitted that situations can change in a matter of months. However, Laudrup has only just started to put this Swans side together. He'll be delighted that his side have worked up some tangible success so quickly, but realistically, his vision is still in its youth if not its infancy.

For Laudrup to walk out the door now and turn his back on a squad of players, half of which he hand-picked, on the eve of the Swans' first foray into Europe for over twenty years - an accomplishment he engineered - would be madness. If he did, he'd always wonder what could have been. Laudrup seems to relish the over-achiever tag and his Swansea side have an honest chance of not just making the group stages of the Europa league next season, but - a favourable draw permitting - moving beyond.

The team will need reinforcements, of course. Swans chairman Huw Jenkins has admitted the club have some deals for the coming summer more-or-less completed - the Swans weren't as quiet in the last transfer window as they seemed.

Among the names are Jose Canas of Real Betis, a defensive midfielder who was rumoured to have agreed a summer move back in January. He'll add both quality and depth to the Swans deep midfield positions and could finally provide some genuine like-for-like cover for Leon Britton, although I can imagine them playing alongside each other quite comfortably, too.

Laudrup's extended courtship of Celta Vigo's Iago Aspas continues, with the usual caveats surrounding minimum release fees, boyhood loyalty and the potential for big club hi-jacking all in effect. Past the forward positions, Laudrup will hope chief scout and right hand man Erik Larsen will be able to find Chico Mk II in world football's bargain bin (i.e. Spain).

Last season's offcuts, knock-downs and heavy reductions provided the Swans with Chico Mk I, Michu and Pablo after all, and whilst a similar haul this summer seems unlikely, one more solid centre half is essential if the Swans are to compete on both European and domestic fronts. Or it is if they want to give goalkeepers Michel Vorm and Gerhard Tremmel any chance of hitting their clean sheet bonuses, anyway.

Rough-around-the-edges Kyle Bartley should see more game time once the Swans hit 40 points in the standings this season (one more win will do it), and after a summer of training should have learned the positional discipline he'll need to complement his excellent long-pass delivery, aerial prowess and athleticism. Still, with Garry Monk likely to be eased into a coaching role in the off-season, that leaves the Swans with only three starting-calibre centre-backs, and that makes assumptions about Bartley's development. Perhaps two new defenders would be an even better idea.

The Swans participation in European competition should also provide more starts for squad players like Kemy Agustien and, well, Kemy Agustien. I wouldn't expect Luke Moore, Mark Gower or Leroy Lita to be keeping Swansea addresses much past June or July. Although the club is in a healthy financial position, every single penny of wage budget will need to be spent on players who will actually be playing from here on in.

The Swans must assemble a deep enough squad to not just compete in Europe, but to prevent their European exploits from damaging their Premier League safety - a real threat if the squad is not equipped to handle the extra games, some of which will likely be played before the next Premier League season even begins.

Laudrup, Larsen, new assistant manager Morten Wieghorst and the board will have their work cut out making the necessary changes to the squad between now and next season. Laudrup might just be too busy to leave, and he'll want to keep all of his key players for the journey to come. Long term, Laudrup will leave, and some of those players will be coaxed away with offers too good to refuse. Right now though, and for the foreseeable future (i.e. until January next year), this exciting Swans team needs to stay together and fulfil a potential which is only just beginning to manifest.

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