It turned into one of the dreaded move sagas, leaving senior figures in Swansea City and Everton exasperated with the snail’s pace of their talks to the point that even those on the interior became bored with the story, yet affirmation eventually came on Tuesday evening that Gylfi Sigurdsson was on his way by the Mumbles to Merseyside for £ 45m. The passage of time — over a month — has arguably diluted some of the excitement at one side and certainly the amount of disappointment in the other. While Everton fans grew tired of waiting and, in some instances, began to wonder whether Sigurdsson was really worth all that money and hassle, the mood changed in Swansea after it became evident that the Icelander desired out and that any substantial signings wouldn’t be made before the first instalment of the greatest transfer fee in their history was handed over.
Sigurdsson informed the club in the team hotel in London before they were expected to depart that he had been staying at home and had other thoughts. It would be naive to presume that Sigurdsson’s activities were all of his own doing — the mechanisms behind a move are somewhat more complex than that — and it’s also a fact that plenty of gamers have behaved in precisely the same way to force through a movement. With Sigurdsson Swansea believed it’d be different. A silent man in the dressing area, Sigurdsson was always viewed as a model professional, encouraging those around him with his achievements and commanding the respect of staff and players with his dedication to the training floor. He had been something of a reluctant hero at Swansea — a picture stays in the mind of Sigurdsson on the last day of last season, during the players’ lap of honour, being cajoled by a couple of his team-mates to step forward and admit the supporters which were singing his title to the song of Give it Up by KC and The Sunshine Band.
On the point he seemed ashamed to be spending time from the evening’s end. Kev Johns, the brilliant compere and a fanatical Swansea supporter, watched every on-stage interview as an opportunity to test — tongue-in-cheek — to speak Sigurdsson to staying, at one point jumping on the participant’s description of Swansea as a “special club”. Sigurdsson laughed in the Liberty Stadium deep down people along with the remaining guests that night could have guessed that his time in Wales was up. Certainly plenty of those players believed that was the situation after another superb season from a guy whose participation over the last 3 years in Swansea shines through at the company that he has been keeping in regards to the statistics that actually matter. Sigurdsson has been engaged in 53 Premier League goals since the beginning of the season, which to Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen is second as a midfielder.
The guy that Sigurdsson has been purchased to replace at Goodison Park, and the midfielder, has been involved in 20 league targets within the period.
Now take under account the fact that Sigurdsson has been scoring and producing all those goals in a group that has spent the past two seasons fighting relegation and it becomes somewhat easier to understand why Swansea place a £ 50m evaluation on his mind, especially given the kind of transfer fees which were paid elsewhere in the Premier League this summer and, sometimes, for players which are nothing like as powerful. There’s a misconception about Sigurdsson that he’s no more than a set-piece expert. Sigurdsson, without question, is brilliant in scenarios. Every direct free-kick within shooting way carried a enormous sense of anticipation at Swansea and the figures covering the previous 3 seasons demonstrate that he’s comfortably top of the heap for opportunities generated from set-plays (106, over twice as many as any Everton player), nevertheless the 27-year-old has much more to his game.
A smart player who likes to roam and link play, Sigurdsson is at his finest when he sees pockets of room to open teams up with a first-time pass or clever backheel. That glowing soccer brain makes up for the fact that he lacks speed: he is, by his own admission, “not the sort of player who’s going to have the ball and run beyond the full-back”. For that reason Sigurdsson should play as a No10 through the middle. In Tottenham Hotspur, where Sigurdsson spent two seasons after joining from Hoffenheim in 2012, he was frustrated with how long he spent on either the left wing or the seat. 58 Premier League looks were made by him across two seasons with Spurs, yet was from start to finish in nine of those games. Tottenham’s loss was Swansea’s gain, as Mauricio Pochettino admitted season. The Spurs manager said Sigurdsson could have been a “perfect player” for him at White Hart Lane, however he never actually got the opportunity to work with a midfielder who had been in his starting lineup for a pre-season close against Seattle Sounders simply to be marketed 40 minutes before the match kicked off. Received a call to mention that Ben Davies joined from Swansea and Sigurdsson went another way.
Coaches, managers and players came to respect his work ethic in training as his targets and assists on a game day. Team-mates would discuss the way in which the goalkeeper trainer would seem at Sigurdsson on a morning in the training ground and ask: “Now?” More often than not Sigurdsson would provide a nod back, which meant that he wanted to do some shooting the session had ended. He would spend hours hitting at the ball from the edge of the area with both feet he scored some goals that were terrific for Swansea and got his reward. “There is no chance involved,” Jack Cork stated at the end of last season, reflecting on the superb free-kick which Sigurdsson scored against Manchester United to make Swansea a stage in April. “Gylfi spends ages practising. Sigurdsson, simply speaking, was a guy who could do no wrong in the eyes of everybody in the club and few in the Liberty Stadium could have begrudged him a big move this summer. It had been something of a astonishment when Swansea was able to tie him down to a contract. After the Barnet match last month left a taste yet how things were handled. It’s a shame in many ways, especially given the heritage that Sigurdsson could have left at Swansea, even though there’s nothing be gained by dwelling on the past. While Everton concentrate on getting their signing match whenever possible to help continue their start to the season, Swansea should move to reinvest the money. Time will tell whether the haggling was rewarding.