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Spotlight: Gylfi Sigurdsson

Swansea are awful. But their Icelandic talisman isn’t.

Swansea City v Crystal Palace - Premier League
Swansea might get relegated, but it will be in spite of Sigurdsson’s efforts.
Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Such is the odd nature of fantasy sports in general that a team can be as abject as Swansea City have been this season, yet you are about to read a column that extolls the virtues of one of their players as a potentially valuable fantasy pick. Make no mistake, Swansea have been terrible. 2 wins in their 14 Premier League matches this season has them sitting at the foot of the table and new manager Skeletor Bob Bradley hasn’t really been able to coax any life out of the South Wales outfit.

But all is not lost as a fantasy player because Swansea still have a gem in their ranks who has seemingly rocketed in popularity since Philippe Coutinho’s injury. Step forward Gylfi Sigurdsson. The Icelandic international has a total score of 64 on the official game. That’s more than Harry Kane (to be fair, he’s been injured) and the same amount as Mesut Özil. Despite his more than respectable numbers, Sigurdsson only costs £7.4m on the official game. He’s put up solid numbers for the past two seasons but appears to be on pace to break all of his own personal bests this year.

In terms of meat and potatoes, Sigurdsson has 4 goals and 4 assists this season. His best goalscoring year was last season with 11 (with 3 assists) and his best assist season was 2014/15 with 10 (and 7 goals). It’s absolutely feasible that he could best both of those totals this season. He’s one of only 3 Swansea players with more than 1 goal this season (Leroy Fer and Fernando Llorente being the other 2), and he’s also one of 3 Swansea players to register an assist this season as well (Modou Barrow and Federico Fernandez). Sigurdsson is the unquestioned fulcrum of Swansea’s attack, and if they are to go down, he’ll be the first name the wolves circle in the summer.

He’s also hitting form ahead of a busy Christmas schedule, but one where Swansea’s fixtures don’t look all that daunting. He has 2 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games and the Swans next 5 are Sunderland (H), West Brom (A), Middlesbrough (A), West Ham (H) and Bournemouth (H). It’s not exactly a murderers row, and in a period where Swansea will be desperate to pick up some points to try and salvage their season, they will be looking to their best player to carry them.

And carry them is exactly what he’s trying to do. Sigurdsson is shooting more per game than at any point since 2011/12 (3.1 shots per game) but the uptick has come entirely from shots outside the box. He averaged 0.9 shots per game in the penalty area last season, and that number is the same this year. But where he averaged 1.5 shots from outside the box last year, that number has jumped to 2.2 this season. Normally one would assume negative connotations from this as shots from outside the box tend to be less efficient, but Sigurdsson is a very effective shooter from distance. 2 of his 4 goals this season have come from outside the box, and he scored 4 from beyond 18 yards last season as well. So more shots from him probably means more goals.

While his key passing numbers are at the lowest they’ve been over the past 3 seasons, Sigurdsson has already registered more assists this season so far than he did over the whole of 2015/16. Shooting volume is up, key passing efficiency is up, he takes the penalties and the free kicks and the corners as well. If you’re looking for a possible Coutinho replacement, have a gander at the worst team in the league.