Now Swansea City have secured their place in next season’s Premier League, Paul Clement may regret the praise he heaped on Gylfi Sigurdsson earlier this term.
A 2-0 win at Sunderland on Saturday afternoon meant the Swans would be safe from relegation if Hull City failed to win at Crystal Palace the following day. And it took the Eagles just three minutes to deal the Tigers a blow at Selhurst Park when Wilfried Zaha slotted home, and three more goals secured the top-flight status of both the Eagles and Swansea whilst sending Marco Silva’s side down.
This will go down as some achievement by the Liberty Stadium club, who began the campaign with Francesco Guidolin in charge before he was replaced by Bob Bradley in October. The American failed to impress and was dismissed after just 85 days, and Clement was installed as manager and handed the task of lifting the club from the bottom of the Premier League table.
The former Derby County boss has done a fine job in Wales, winning seven of his 18 games in charge to guide them to safety, but the talisman on the itch has once more been Sigurdsson. The Iceland international has appeared in all their 37 league games so far, scoring nine goals and assisting 13 more as he cements his reputation as one of the most consistent players in England.
Indeed, earlier this season Clement was full of praise for the former Tottenham Hotspur man, claiming he had the ability to play for one of the bigger clubs in the game. Coming from a coach who has assisted Carlo Ancelotti at Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain and Bayern Munich, it is little wonder the midfielder admitted he was flattered with such high praise.
In an interview with Goal.com back in March, when asked about Clement’s praise Sigurdsson revealed it would a ‘dream’ to play for such a big club. So whilst securing their place in the Premier League may not set panic alarms ringing in respect to reported interest in the player from Everton and West Ham United, the Swans may have a job on their hands distracting interest from other suitors.
Because who wouldn’t want a player like Sigurdsson in their side? Even Mauricio Pochettino must wonder if he made a rare blunder in agreeing to let him return to Swansea in the summer of 2014, when the recently-appointed Spurs coach agreed to let him leave in a deal which saw fullback Ben Davies and goalkeeper Michel Vorm head to White Hart Lane in exchange.
It is to the benefit of the Swans that the Argentine was prepared to let Sigurdsson leave, and Clement would most likely have done the same had his side been relegated next week. But with Premier League football now secured for next season, maybe by claiming the playmaker is good enough to play for a club of higher stature he has already inadvertently given him ideas beyond the Liberty Stadium.