And so the Gylfi Sigurdsson saga finally ends. While Swansea have lost their all-time Premier League goals and assists leader, they have recouped a club-record £45 million fee, which could fix several seasons of subpar recruitment at a stroke. How Swansea deal with the departure of their star man and how they reinvest the money will now play a huge role in determining the club's future.
This is Swansea's "Gareth Bale money", equivalent (adjusting for stature) to the time Spurs sold their former star player to Real Madrid for an £85m fee, which was then a world record. Tottenham used the majority of that income to address several squad issues at once, and although not all the players they bought had the desired impact, Swansea should now consider doing the same.
On the surface, the Welsh club have lost a key cog in an attacking unit who played a significant part in saving the side from relegation last season. While the reintroduction of Leon Britton and the emergence of Alfie Mawson played as important a role behind the front lines, manager Paul Clement relied on the "holy trinity" up front: Jordan Ayew to win a free kick or corner, Sigurdsson to take it and Fernando Llorente to score it.
Eight of Sigurdsson's 13 assists last season came from set pieces. The seven goals he provided for Llorente represented not only the most headed goals by a single player in the league, but also the most effective goal-scoring connection between any two players. With no Sigurdsson, it is easy to assume Llorente will struggle this season, and that Ayew might now have to do more than getting fouled. Not so.
Tom Carroll has hinted throughout preseason that he's nearly as good as Sigurdsson from dead-ball situations. He's certainly good enough that Swansea will still pose a strong set-piece threat, so Ayew and Llorente can happily reprise their roles. That opens up space for a different type of player to step into the No. 10 role, with Jonathan Viera and Nacer Chadli heavily linked.
Viera would be an ideal fit, but Swansea are said to be unwilling to meet his €30m release clause. Second only to Lionel Messi in key passes made from open play in La Liga last season (67 to 71), the Spanish playmaker -- an expert in scooping through balls over traffic -- would suit Clement's diamond system perfectly and allow Swansea to rely less on set pieces for goals.
Chadli, one of the players Tottenham bought with that Bale money, is a more realistic target and might only cost £20m from West Brom. The versatile Belgian forward has the right attributes -- some pace, some size, good in the air, capable of scoring. But he has perhaps looked better on the wing than centrally, and he won't replicate Sigurdsson's work ethic -- nobody covered more kilometres (433) in the Premier League last season than the Icelander.
Elsewhere, Swansea are said to be close to bringing fan favourite Wilfried Bony back into the fold, and are apparently making overtures to fellow Swansea old boy Joe Allen. Bony has not enjoyed his time away from the Liberty but should rediscover his form given a show of faith, while the interest in Allen is misguided. The club wouldn't meet Liverpool's £10m asking price last summer. To pay twice that at this point would be a profligate way to rectify that folly. Besides, the club needs a new right-back far more than another central midfielder.
With only two weeks until the close of the window, Swansea need to settle on targets fast. If the club chooses wisely and acts quickly, they should be able to bring in as many as three new faces to provide better depth and balance to the squad. It is entirely possible that Swansea can be a better team even without Sigurdsson if the three parties with power in this situation -- Clement, chairman Huw Jenkins and owners Jason Levien and Steve Kaplan -- can act decisively and intelligently.
As for Sigurdsson, it remains to be seen whether he'll be the latest player struck with the "Swansea Curse", the hex that dooms all former stars to struggle with their new sides: Remember Bony's oblivion at Manchester City and Stoke, Andre Ayew picking up a serious injury in his first game for West Ham, or even Sigurdsson himself when he left Swansea the first time to join Spurs.
Nobody can blame the player for wanting to further his career at this point. He's 28 and wants a better chance to play in European competition. He played a huge role in saving Swansea last season, and has at least left the club with a significant parting gift -- the money that if spent properly will save the club again this season, and beyond.