El Centrocampista

The making of Michu – Swansea’s Spanish star proves his weight in gold

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English Premier League clubs again proved to be the biggest spenders in Europe during the summer transfer window, with the crippling austerity measures that have swept across the continent seemingly having little impact on the likes of Chelsea and Manchester City who both spent heavily over the summer.

The reported £490 million outlay seen in England was in stark contrast to the situation in Spain where La Liga clubs have been forced to tighten the purse strings as the country experiences its worst financial crisis in living memory. Just £52 million was spent by Spanish clubs during the transfer window as many sides looked to their youth ranks and loan deals to strengthen squads ahead of the new season.

While it may be true that Real Madrid and Barcelona brought in the likes of Luka Modric, Jordi Alba and Alex Song this year, the majority of big name transfers saw players actually leave Spain in order to further their careers – both professionally, and financially.

Once again, it was the Premier League who seemingly benefited the most from La Liga’s financial woes as a number of key players left clubs in Spain to play in Europe’s most lucrative football landscape. World Cup winner Santi Cazorla was undoubtedly the biggest name to arrive as Arsenal took advantage of Malaga’s summer of discontent, however, a number of other Spanish clubs lost influential players as the lure of better wages proved too much a incentive to resist.

One of these transfers almost slipped under the radar and earned little space in the back pages of the sports pages of British newspapers. Yet the £2 million Swansea City paid Rayo Vallecano for the services of  Miguel Pérez Cuesta may just prove to be the transfer coup of the season.

The 26-year-old attacking midfielder, better known as Michu, has proved a revelation under former Getafe and Mallorca coach Michael Laudrup at the Liberty Stadium so far this season. For fans of La Liga football, this impact should come as little surprise, however, as the Oviedo-born player was the most prolific midfielder in Spain last season and was linked with a host of Spanish clubs during the summer.

The spending power of Spanish clubs proved insufficient to keep Michu in La Liga, however, and he arrived in South Wales in August something of an unknown quantity.

Michu began his career at his hometown team Real Oviedo in the lower leagues of Spanish football. After four years, over 100 appearances and 13 goals for the club, Michu moved to Galician outfit Celta Vigo’s B side in 2007 and soon earned a call up to first team after scoring 10 goals in 28 appearances during his first season.

Michu scored 15 goals in just over 100 games for Celta’s first team and in January 2010, negotiations for a transfer to Sporting Gijón began. These talks broke down, however, and the following season he helped Celta Vigo secure a La Liga play-off spot with six goals.

During the summer of 2011 Michu made the move to newly promoted Rayo Vallecano on a free transfer and the midfielder proved both literally and figuratively-speaking, priceless for the Madrid-based club. The midfielder was instrumental in Rayo’s last gasp survival last term and bagged an impressive 15 goals in 37 league games for the club  – including a brace at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid.

Despite being controversially sent off in Rayo’s home fixture against Real Madrid in February, Manchester United scouts were reportedly in the stands to watch his man of the match performance a week later against Racing Santander – a game in which he also scored another two goals.

This reported interest came after the club had also claimed former Chelsea boss Andre Villas-Boas was  monitoring the play before he was relieved of his position at Stamford Bridge.

Michu was contracted to Rayo until 2013, yet Swansea’s modest offer of £2 million was enough to secure his signature in July as the La Liga side looked to reduce their crippling debts. Rayo’s loss has been very much Swansea’s gain as Michu’s  rich vein of form continues. Two goals on his debut helped the Swans to a 5-0 thumping of QPR and the Spaniard has gone on to score five goals in seven games in the English top flight.

Swansea’s stunning start to the new campaign may have ground to a halt with rumours of dressing room strife beginning to appear in the gossip columns, however, the Welsh side have a squad capable of securing  a comfortable mid-table finish in the Premier League.

Reports suggested Michu’s agent had approached almost every club in the Premier League during the summer as he looked to get the best possible deal for his client, however, it was the unfashionable Welsh side that showed the biggest interest and followed that interest up by completing what the player said was a ‘dream’ move.

As Michu continues to grab the headlines for his new employers, there are sure to be a number of clubs currently  lamenting a missed opportunity for a rare bargain in modern football.

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