The latest Premier League odds for relegation continue to fluctuate. Yet, where Swansea City AFC is concerned, the outlook remains bleaker than a cold front in November across the Gower peninsula.
Unlike the condemned duo beneath them (Sunderland and Middlesbrough), the Swans do remain in realistic contention for survival after a traumatic season. However, a 3-1 home defeat to Tottenham on April 5, provided further illustration of the guile and assertiveness that the Swansea XI sorely lacks on home turf.
Another Swansea defeat at the weekend, 1-0 at the London Stadium, represented a paltry return of one point from the last twelve for Paul Clement’s men. That is prime relegation form by any measure, but more especially so at this stage of the season.
Without the endeavour and diligence of set-piece expert Gylfi Sigurdsson, Paul Clement’s ailing Swansea side would already be consigned to certain relegation. Regardless of Swansea’s Premier League status (or lack thereof) in 2017/18, the Icelandic midfielder will be a wanted man by clubs across the continent this summer.
Blue is the Colour, is Chelsea the Name?
Relegation for Swansea would merely serve to make the probable inevitable. For Sigurdsson, a move to Stamford Bridge would represent just reward for seasons of hard graft with a Swansea squad that, it could be argued, no longer deserves his services.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is now mere weeks away from winning the Premier League title on his first attempt. As a front three, Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro have proven to be unplayable at times this season, with Hazard particularly emerging as Chelsea’s most dangerous all-rounder after a poor season in 2015/16.
With Chelsea’s attacking potency taken into account, it is difficult to see how exactly Sigurdsson would fit into Conte’s setup on a regular basis. There will, however, be the additional distraction of Champions League football for Conte and his battling blues next season, which at least makes Sigurdsson’s entry into the starting XI via squad rotation a possibility.
Additionally, Sigurdsson’s ability from set pieces could be an asset when it comes to stealing away goals, at Europe’s most famous fortresses, in the knockout phase.
‘Nil Satis Nisi Optimum’ for Sigurdsson?
Curiously, most bookmakers believe that Goodison Park is by far the likeliest destination for Sigurdsson, with such a move priced at around 4/1.
Everton striker Romelu Lukaku appears all but bound for a summer departure, and on current form, his value should easily hit the £60 million mark. This return on investment, combined with the wealth of Iranian billionaire shareholder Farhad Moshiri, represents a summer of unprecedented opportunity for the blue half of Merseyside.
In the event of his arrival at Goodison Park, Sigurdsson will likely contest the so-called “Number Ten” role with boyhood blue Ross Barkley.
Amongst Everton fans, opinions of Barkley remain mixed. However, Barkley’s omission in favour of a new face could well destroy what is currently a good dressing room spirit, but there is also room for great improvement at set pieces. While the aging Leighton Baines is a certified maestro from the penalty spot, it is also worth noting that Everton have been deprived of a true set piece specialist since the departure of Mikel Arteta in 2011.
The only feasible way in which Sigurdsson could play alongside Barkley would be at the centre of a ‘false nine’, in front of a solid defensive midfield trio of Davies, Schneiderlin and Gana. Ronald Koeman would, however, consider many other alternatives before even dreaming of resorting to a ‘false nine’.
Ultimately, developments around this particular move are worth watching. However, the move itself is not necessarily one to back as of yet.
A fine claret?
With a Chelsea move considered unlikely by bookmakers, Sigurdsson may find solace at another London club. Following in the footsteps of former Swansea teammate Andre Ayew, Sigurdsson would find himself a highly-valued part of an intriguing project at the London Stadium.
In Robert Snodgrass, Slaven Bilic already has a set piece expert at his disposal. Undeniably, the combination of Snodgrass and Sigurdsson in the same starting XI would see West Ham reach peak capability in the centre of the park. Yet, without adequate strengthening in the wide areas, West Ham will continue to experience barren runs of form next season.
In the wing play department, Michael Antonio arguably remains West Ham’s MVP, but like Sigurdsson, he is not without his suitors. Should Antonio depart, Sigurdsson’s task of stabilising West Ham’s playing style could be greatly complicated by the presence of an unknown quantity in the wide area.
Though second-favourites to sign Sigurdsson, at around 7/1, West Ham can offer him a relatively easy transition from Swansea. Whether Bilic can take the initiative is quite another matter.