As the second half of the season starts to kick in, Brendan Rodgers has turned to a familiar face to boost the Swansea midfield ranks. The acquisition of Gylfi Sigurdsson on loan from 1899 Hoffenheim until the end of the campaign reunites the duo, with Rodgers having previously managed the midfielder during his tenure as Reading boss.
The Icelandic international, voted Player of the Year by the Hoffenheim fans last term, missed much of his side’s pre-season and has subsequently failed to establish himself in the first-team, making a mere seven appearances this term. Given that the Bundesliga club paid in excess of £6.5m for his services, though, he’s clearly a highly-rated individual.
The idea, then, is to help Sigurdsson return to full fitness before he heads back to Germany at the end of the season. Priced at a very reasonable £3.9m on the transfer list, he has already made an impression. Coming off the bench last Sunday against Arsenal, he took less than twenty minutes of his debut to make a difference, setting up Danny Graham to fire home the winner in the 3-2 Liberty Stadium thriller.
Sigurdsson was handed trials at both Preston and Arsenal before signing on an Academy scholarship with Reading back in 2005. He made his debut for the Royals in the 2008-09 campaign but was farmed out on a couple of short-term loans that season, making a total of 20 appearances for Crewe and Shrewsbury, scoring 5 goals and providing a single assist.
He stayed at the Championship side for just over a couple of years, returning 19 goals and 10 assists in just 43 appearances before Hoffenheim snapped him up in August 2010. Sigurdsson went on to play 28 times in his first season in the German top-flight, scoring 9 times and producing 6 assists but his impact has been minimal at best this time round, with a single assist to his name.
If his cameo against the Gunners is indicative of what’s to come, Sigurdsson looks set to shine amidst Swansea’s passing game. Further analysis of the stats shows that Sigurdsson flourished in his only full season under Rodgers, producing 21 goals and 8 assists in 44 games. It’s no surprise, then, that the Swans boss couldn’t hide his delight upon completion of the move:
He is a terrific young player. When I went in to manage at Reading, he was a young player who had showed signs in pre-season, and I really liked him and stuck him in the team. He is a real threat with his shooting, and he understands the game – he is a clever boy. Our best chance was to get him on loan and it is a terrific move for the club. We will review it and look at it after the season finishes.
Sigurdsson will add a much-needed goal threat from the midfield area. Joe Allen, with 2 goals, is the only member of the Swansea central three to find the net this season and the new boy’s eye for goal means he’ll be played as the furthest forward of the trio in Rodgers’ 4-3-3. With an outstanding set-piece ability, he’s likely to be on corners and free-kicks too, as was illustrated in his brief cameo last weekend.
Whether Sigurdsson is ready for a start as he builds up his fitness is another matter entirely; it may well be Rodgers affords him game time from the bench until his stamina is ready for the frenetic pace of the Premier League. Rodgers has shown he has the intelligence and confidence to stick to his passing ethos and has a keen understanding of the type of player that makes his system click. His faith in Sigurdsson is absolute, suggesting the twenty-two year old could well help the Welsh side step up yet another level in the second half of the season.