Prolific Michu lighting up Premier League
LONDON (AP) — When Swansea announced the signing of Miguel Perez Cuesta from Spanish struggler Rayo Vallecano in July last year, it barely caused a ripple in English football.
At 2 million pounds ($3.2 million), many will have presumed that Michu — as he is better known — was simply another journeyman foreigner soon to be swallowed up in the world's richest league.
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson had never heard of him. He wasn't on the radar of Arsenal's scouting network either. Other clubs deliberated about signing him but eventually declined.
What an oversight.
The lanky forward is now established as one of the Premier League's most lethal finishers, scoring 16 goals in all competitions this season, and is in line for a call-up by world and European Spain for the Feb. 6 friendly against Uruguay.
Michu is being spoken of in the same breath as Robin van Persie, Luis Suarez and Sergio Aguero and, unsurprisingly, is being linked to a move to one of Europe's top teams in the offseason. He won't be easy to prise away, though.
"We all know the situation, the economic situation in the world, so there really aren't that many clubs who can buy him," Swansea manager Michael Laudrup said. "There are some here (in England); in Spain, there are only two (Barcelona and Real Madrid). Italy? I don't think so. They're trying to sell. Bayern Munich in Germany ... so only a few, few clubs."
Considering Michu was a sensation in Spanish football last season, scoring 15 goals to help Rayo avoid relegation on the last day of the season, the continent's powers missed an absolute bargain to highlight glaring blind spots within their scouting departments.
"It hurts me to hear Arsene Wenger say that nobody here had heard of Michu," Guillem Balague, a Spanish football expert with Sky Sports, told The Associated Press. "It is a failure in the scouting system in England that nobody could see his potential.
"It's something for these clubs to analyze, that somebody who cost €2.5 million cannot be worth it for their team. There are players like that in Spain now — they should sharpen their views."
Goal-scoring midfielders are always godsends, and Michu is proving he is up there with the best. He has the cool finishing ability of a striker despite never having played in the position on a regular basis.
Laudrup, though, has pushed him further upfield and Michu is now Swansea's main forward as the unheralded Welsh team continues to impress in the Premier League while closing in on a place in the League Cup final. On Wednesday, the Swans won 2-0 at Chelsea in the first leg of the semifinals — and yes, Michu scored.
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