Date: 14th July 2019 at 9:46pm
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Swansea City chairman Trevor Birch confirmed at Thursday’s Fans’ Forum at the Liberty Stadium that they would need to rely on free signings and loans during this Summer’s transfer window – such is our on-going financial situation following the effects of Premier League relegation.

The news shouldn’t come as a big surprise to Swans fans as there’s a lot been made about a supposed £30m hole that needs filling. The sale of Daniel James to Manchester City could fill two-thirds of that if addons are activated. Graham Potter and his staff’s departure also raised a few million plus Jordan Ayew is expected to join Crystal Palace for £2.5m. Therefore, that £30m hole should be close to being filled ahead of the new season.

The BBC quoted Trevor Birch as saying:

“It would be loans and frees, that’s the market we’re looking at,”

“If it’s a small transfer fee then possibly, but that’s where we are. That’s our current financial position.”

In terms of other players that could still leave us this Summer, striker Oli McBurnie is still being pursued by Premier League newcomers Sheffield United. Reports say that we want £20m whereas the Blades are reluctant to match that valuation.

Elsewhere, defender Mike van der Hoorn has a £10m valuation on his head according to speculation which is surely going to put off any interested clubs as he’s available for free next year when his contract expires.

Losing those two players would be massive blows ahead of a new campaign under Steve Cooper. Other speculation behind the scenes suggests, as Birch said, that money would be available to spend to replace these key assets. Bournemouth have also been knocked back when enquiring about Connor Roberts.

Despite the reliance of loans and free signings without a transfer kitty to help bolster the squad for a promotion push, the Swans can still be clever in the transfer market. We’ve never been big spenders when previously plying our trade in the Championship and obviously that won’t change anytime soon. Even in League One under Roberto Martinez, we were signing players for very small fees that grew as excellent team players that played a big part in our rise to the Premier League.

The market might have changed since then, fees are bigger than ever but that still doesn’t mean that there are no players across Europe that can be picked up for small fees.

If you can get the right recruitment and scouting team in place, then clubs can look to take advantage and bring in quality for low fees.

Trevor Birch will be handed a detailed document next week that will outline services that the club could take advantage of from a small group of consultants – mainly the recommendation of players that have been heavily researched as being players similar to those that have departed or might depart this Summer. Shortlists have been drawn up of players that could be quickly lined up if we lose the likes of Oli McBurnie, Mike van der Hoorn and Matt Grimes.

As a football club, you have to have a backup plan in place. If we do lose a key player, how can we quickly bring in an adequate replacement for an affordable price? This is where an effective recruitment plan comes in.

The document, a condensed version of it, can be publicly viewed via this link

The document provides an in-depth insight into how players are scouted and identified as replacements for Swansea’s key assets. Also, the amount of analysis work that’s applied in order to understand the players, team’s style of play to ensure that the players’ shortlisted would suit the team and the division they’ll be playing in.

As a few examples, Philippe Sandler is identified as a possible replacement for Mike van der Hoorn. 22-year-old defender Felix Eboa Eboa was a player identified as a replacement for loanee Cameron Carter-Vickers – currently playing in the French top division.

You can view the document via the link above to read the detail and the other players that were identified as suitable targets. These players wouldn’t necessarily be available on a free but would be for small fees.

Data might be heavily involved in this player scouting and shortlisting process but video is also heavily used to ensure that the data matches the eye test.

The Swans, given their financial situation, need to do things differently than the competition. Looking at the UK market is difficult, fees are inflated and there’s already much stronger clubs currently active within it.

Brentford are a club that have benefited from investing in their data scouting and focusing on player trading to raise funds and profits.

Quotes here from their Director of Football Rasmus Ankersen in 2018 brilliantly sum up how Brentford have been successful in the transfer market:

“It’s not the head coach that signs the player, or the owner, it’s everyone, I always tell the player that it’s the club that buys him, not an individual.

“Look at Birmingham: they sign a lot of players, then the manager is gone after four games. The player would think ‘he signed me – will the next guy like me?’ Brentford is not one ‘star’ leading things. The project is the star.”

Trevor Birch is trying to establish some consistency with our recruitment, similar in some ways to what is explained above. When managers come and go, the recruitment and philosophy remains the constant. The Swans have failed miserably in the past when looking for quick fixes, it’s about time now that we believed in the long-term project and do things different from our competitors.

 
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