Ayew-Progress

It?s already been something of a hectic summer for Swansea. Garry Monk?s side secured the services of the highly rated Andr? Ayew from Marseille on a free transfer earlier this month and have since bolstered their ranks further through sought after target Franck Tabanou.

After the 2015/16 Premier League fixture list was announced on Wednesday, presenting Swansea with a relatively comfortable start to the new campaign, it?s no surprise recently appointed first team coach James Beattie is ?champing at the bit? to get started for pre-season.

The Swans secured both their highest points total (56) and best finish (8th) in England?s top-flight in their 103-year history last term and the onus is now to build on a successful season, with a return to Europe a possibility. The acquisition of Ayew first off is a real statement of their intentions. Only Dimitri Payet (7.62) and Nicolas N?Koulou (7.59) gained better WhoScored ratings of all Marseille players in Ligue 1 last season than the 25-year-old (7.42).

?It shows that the club is going in the right direction again,? captain Ashley Williams enthused on the acquisition of Ayew. The Ghana international had expressed a desire to leave Marseille once his contract came to an end, but that he was willing to sacrifice Champions League football to try his hand in the Premier League with Swansea speaks volumes about the club?s ambition. Ayew was directly involved in 13 league goals for l?OM last season (10 goals and 3 assists), a notable return given only recently departed striker Andr?-Pierre Gignac (21) netted more times of all Marseille players.

Tabanou

After Nelson Oliveira returned to Benfica following the culmination of his loan spell, Swansea required another goalscoring threat to ease the burden on Bafetimbi Gomis and while Ayew will not be an out-an-out striker in Monk?s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, the Ghanaian provides a further goalscoring outlet from wide. 18 of the 25-year-old?s 27 league starts last season came on the left flank, with Ayew capable of coming onto his right foot to go for goal, accentuating his statistically calculated WhoScored style of play of ?likes to cut inside?.

The capture of the attacker will also provide further balance to this Swansea side. A majority of the Swans? attacks came down their right side (40%) last season, with 30% of their offensive moves coming through the centre or down the left. Therefore, there should be more variety to their attacks, especially if Ayew can replicate his league performances from the previous season in his debut campaign in Wales. An average of 1.4 successful dribbles per league game was a respectable return for a player who is tough to stop when given space to run into.

Ayew-Progress

Compared to all Swansea players, only Jefferson Montero (2.6) averaged more successful dribbles per game than Ayew, with the two in line to do battle for a starting berth. While this is rightly considered a selection headache for Monk, it is one the Swansea boss will welcome. Montero enjoyed a notable debut season in England, but was still restricted to just 15 league starts last term. The acquisition of Ayew not only helps swell the attacking talent at Monk?s disposal, but provides solid competition for the Ecuador international.

In his continued attempts to improve the left flank, Monk hasn?t stopped tapping into the French market with the signing of Ayew either, securing the services of versatile full-back Tabanou. The Saint Etienne star was strongly linked with a move to the Liberty Stadium back in January, only for the Ligue 1 side to block any transfer in their attempts to secure a Champions League berth. Les Verts? failure to reach Europe?s elite competition saw Swansea rekindle their interest in ?Cannonball Franck? and they?ve finally got their man.

The 26-year-old enjoyed another impressive campaign in France?s top tier, with his WhoScored rating (7.33) bettered only by Loic Perrin (7.59) and Max Gradel (7.36) of all Saint Etienne players. Tabanou has all the attributes to succeed in the English game and it?s little wonder Swansea have monitored the progress of the Frenchman since the turn of the year. Able to provide a further attacking outlet from deep, Tabanou registered more assists (5) than any other defender in Ligue 1 last season.

TaylorvsTabanou

Provided Ayew adopts a similar approach to the one he utilised for Marseille last season, in that he looks to cut inside from the left, the duo could form a lethal partnership on this flank, should Monk opt to rotate the consistent Neil Taylor from his starting XI. The Wales international hardly put a foot wrong in the backline last season, but the chance to add competition in a key position is an opportunity Swansea can?t afford to miss.

Capable of breaking forward with intent at any given opportunity, Tabanou is also not one to shun his defensive responsibilities, highlighted in his average of 1.6 tackles and 2.3 interceptions per league game for Saints Etienne last season. Given the French side averaged 50.8% possession last season, the former Toulouse starter was able to get forward regularly but was still evidently an able defender when called on. Swansea, in comparison, averaged 50% possession in the Premier League last term, so Tabanou will need to ensure he is not caught out by the opposition should he push forward. A statistically calculated strength of ?concentration? suggests this should not be a concern for the Swans.

The acquisitions of Ayew and Tabanou are real signals of intent for Swansea. Monk?s team have proven they are a team worthy of a Premier League place and they will now do all they can to establish themselves as regular Europa League contenders. With the quality of performers making the move to the Liberty Stadium, it?s no wonder Beattie ? among others ? is eager for pre-season training to start ahead of what should be an exciting season for Swansea.

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