Attacking players can hurt defenses in a myriad of different ways.
Some go about their job with a brute physicality, never letting a defender settle, imposing themselves aerially and generally being a nuisance. Others are a little more subtle, dropping into space, utilising their in-game intelligence and exerting their technical ability on proceedings.
These facts are a given, but those players that can effect the game by utilizing both of those skill-sets, those who can harm teams by landing heavy, hefty blows before intricately picking an opponent apart, they’re special talents. And Swansea City’s center forward Wilfried Bony is quickly cementing his status amongst that exclusive group of forward players.
The Ivory Coast international’s latest goal in the Swans’ unfortunate 2-1 defeat to Tottenham Hotspur was his eighth of the season and his fourth in five games. It was also his 20th Premier League goal of 2014, a category which the 26-year-old leads ahead of the likes of Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, and Wayne Rooney.
Bony has already proven he’s no one-hit wonder. Admittedly, after playing in his first ever World Cup in the summer, it took the former Vitesse Arnheim man a few weeks to get back up to speed—a lapse in judgement and subsequent red card against Southampton didn’t help expedite that process—but since netting his first goal of the season against Newcastle United, he’s been one of the best center forwards in the league.
His hold-up play is wonderfully refined, his utilization of the ball is astute and his link-up play with Swansea’s swathes of polished midfield men—most notably Gylfi Sigurdsson—has been aesthetically pleasing for those who frequent Liberty Stadium, as well as those watching from afar.
But it’s his work in the penalty area that’s set him apart in recent weeks; the timing of runs, the understated sharp darts away from defenders and the perennially purposeful finishing that’s being showcased.
Much to the delight of all those at the Liberty Stadium, their No. 10 put pen to paper on a contract extension back in November. But such is the glittering form of Bony, reports have surfaced claiming that a host of the Premier League’s elite clubs—including last season’s top two, Manchester City and Liverpool—are weighing up a possible move for the striker.
It’s easy to see why and there are reasons aside from Bony’s obvious class. After all, City have an index of injured center forwards at the moment, meaning they may have to turn to James Milner as an emergency striker. On the other hand, the Reds are in desperate need of a goalscorer, with their forward trio of Mario Balotelli, Rickie Lambert and the injured Daniel Sturridge only capable of conjuring a meagre two goals between them all season.
Swansea are a club renowned for their sensible and professional running. After the monetary concerns that blighted them in the past, they are now financially sure-footed too. But that could work both for and against them when it comes to the potential pursuit of Bony by perceivably bigger names.
On the one hand, they’re a team that will be under no obligation to sell their prized asset if they are keen on keeping hold of him. But in the same breath, if someone does stump up a bid of circa £25 million or more, the club’s higher-ups will be acutely aware that it is an offer that they must take very seriously indeed especially given that they paid Vitesse Arnheim £11 million for him just 18 months ago.
While the speculation is merely paper talk at the moment, there will come a day when an elite side makes a move for the forward and the murmurings have already begun. Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher told Sky Sports that he hopes his former bring him to Anfield, and Bony has the indisputable quality to revitalise the Reds’ front line as they try to get a downer of a campaign back on track.
At Manchester City, he’d definitely make an impact too. While Aguero is the star man at the Etihad Stadium, the effervescent Argentine is a player that suffers regularly with injuries. Consequentially, it’s vital that Manuel Pellegrini has a classy second choice available to fill in for or to play alongside their No. 16. At this juncture, Bony would be an ideal foil and much better replacement for Aguero.
After he bagged an impressive 16 goals in his maiden Premier League campaign, there will have been clubs keeping close tabs on Bony throughout the transfer window. But it’s always dangerous signing a player on the back of one strong campaign in a high calibre league, and perhaps that’s why no team made their interest official.
It’s abundantly clear that Bony is no flash in the pan however, and as a result Swansea could face a testing January window if they’re to keep hold of their goalscorer extraordinaire.
It would be wonderful to see the Welsh outfit stand firm against this reported interest and for the Ivorian to fire them towards a lofty finish in the Premier League table. But given Bony would be available to lend a hand to the respective European commitments of both City and Liverpool, it be no surprise to the see the resolve of the Swans severely tested during the midseason window.
Follow Matt on Twitter @MattJFootball
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