Swansea paid Rayo Vallecano £2 million for Michu this summer. Extracting the 26-year-old from Spain was a calculated risk, one that Tottenham and several other clubs chose not to pursue (ESPN), but it is looking like a masterstroke.
Michu has been a revelation. He leads the Premier League scoring charts with 12 from 16 games and his goals have propelled Swansea to eighth in the table. Without them, Michael Laudrup's team would be just above the relegation zone.
Michu is not just deadly, he operates with deadly efficiency. His chance conversation rate of 25 percent (whoscored.com) is higher than those of Robin van Persie, Demba Ba and Luis Suarez, and Michu has scored from 12 of his 20 attempts on target in the Premier League this season. As Arsenal and Norwich will attest, he doesn't need asking twice.
The Spaniard has played himself into the transfer gossip columns. In the last few days, reports have linked Michu with January moves to Liverpool (Mirror) and Atletico Madrid (BBC). We can expect other clubs to be mentioned before the window opens, for the commodity of a proven goalscorer is the most valuable of all in football.
Besotted Swansea fans will already be fearing the worst, despite their new hero's loyal stance in a recent interview. Said Michu, as per the Daily Mail:
Right now I’m happy, playing almost every minute and I’m very happy. It is always nice that you get talked about with teams like Atletico Madrid, one of the largest in Spain, but now I am very happy in Swansea.
Laudrup won't want to lose his best player, but he recognizes a very big offer would be hard to turn down for Swansea (ITV). How big? Well, the Swans manager gave us an idea when he said Michu should be worth twice the £15 million Liverpool paid them for young midfielder Joe Allen in the summer.
Based on their respective contributions this campaign, he might have a point.
"Joe went to Liverpool and you know more or less what they paid for him, but a guy who has scored many goals must be worth a lot more, so you work out the figures," Laudrup told reporters, before adding he thought an offer in that region unlikely.
That values Michu at £30 million, a mark up of 1,500 percent—or 15 times what Swansea paid for him—and would represent a £28 million profit in six months for the Welsh club. Not a bad piece of business.
If a buyer did stump up that kind of money, Michu would become one of the most profitable signing in Premier League history. Here's a look at some notable comparisons to illustrate Swansea's temptation to offload their talisman for the right price.
Only players who have been bought and sold are included here, ruling out homegrown talent such as Andy Carroll (Newcastle), Ashley Cole (Arsenal), David Beckham (Manchester United), Wayne Rooney (Everton) and Jack Rodwell (Everton). The transfer amounts should seen as estimates, mostly sourced from BBC reports.
|Player||Selling Club||What They Paid||Buying Club||What They Paid||Profit|
|Cristiano Ronaldo||Manchester Utd||£12.24m (2003)||Real Madrid||£80m (2009)||£67.76m|
|Fernando Torres ||Liverpool||£20m (2007)||Chelsea||£50m (2011)||£30m|
|Michu•||Swansea||£2m (2012)||??||£30m (2013)||£28m|
|Cesc Fabregas||Arsenal||£500k (2003)||Barcelona||£25.4m (2011)||£24.9m|
|Nicolas Anelka||Arsenal||£500k (1997)||Real Madrid||£22.3m (1999)||£21.8m|
|Robin van Persie||Arsenal||£2.75m (2004)||Manchester Utd||£24m (2012)||£21.25m|
|Dimitar Berbatov||Tottenham||£10.9m (2006)||Manchester Utd||£30m (2008)||£19.1m|
|Luka Modric||Tottenham||£16.5m (2008)||Real Madrid||£33m (2012)||£16.5m|
|Joleon Lescott||Everton||£5.5 (2006)||Manchester City||£22m (2009)||£16.5m|
|Kolo Toure||Arsenal||£150k (2002)||Manchester City||£14m (2009)||£13.85m|
•Based on the potential of a deal, citing Laudrup's £30 million valuation
The most striking thing is the speed of potential return for Swansea. Tottenham's £19.1 million profit on Dimitar Berbatov took just two years to bring home. Swansea could make more than that in a quarter of the time—and without paying Michu's wages for as long.
But would it really make financial sense for them to sell? When you consider Swansea's very existence in the Premier League may end up relying on Michu's goals this season, there's an argument he's worth at least £28 million for keeping them up—especially when you factor in the new TV deal set to kick in.
Contractually, Swansea are in a strong position.
Michu signed a three-year deal in July. He was lured to Swansea by the presence of Laudrup, who he admires and says has them playing like Barcelona. Michu came not being able to speak English and with no experience of playing outside his native Spain, yet his footballing intelligence has transcended both language barriers
Playing in behind Swansea's main striker, Michu has found a niche that he seems fully equipped to exploit. He's strong in the air, makes great runs and has a technique that lends itself perfectly to Laudrup's purist philosophies at Swansea.
"Fortunately, I trust my first touch, which lets me take advantage of many situations," he told reporters in September. "Of course, playing for a team like Swansea helps me a lot; we like to keep possession."
The big question now, is whether Swansea can keep possession of Michu.