Gylfi Sigurdsson
Swansea are expected to be looking over their shoulder this season. Getty Images

The Swans squad has undergone perhaps its greatest restructuring since their promotion to the Premier League as manager Francesco Guidolin attempts to put his spin on operations at the Liberty Stadium. But despite the changes it is impossible to look past the loss of captain Ashley Williams who has joined Everton for £9m, according to The Daily Mail, and last season's top scorer Andre Ayew, whose move to West Ham United sees nearly a third of the club's top flight goals drain away.

The greatest success for chairman Huw Jenkins is the retention of player of the year Gylfi Sigurdsson on a new four-year deal, in the wake of his starring role for quarter-finalists Iceland at the European Championships. The dependable Angel Rangel will also stay along with winger Nathan Dyer.

Of the additions Guidolin has made, he has hardly drawn from what he knows from his various spells in Italy. Leroy Fer has made his underwhelming loan spell in south Wales permanent, signing from Queens Park Rangers. To cover for the loss of Ayew, 31-year-old Fernando Llorente arrives in English football several years past his peak while former Spain youth international Borja Tomas joins from Atletico Madrid for £15.5m.

Guidolin will be crossing his fingers that the decision to allow Euro 2016 final match-winner Eder to leave for Lille does not come back to bite them, but there are unlikely to be any tears shed over the exit of Alberto Paloschi. The Italian mustered two goals last season after signing in January for £8m and is a welcome exit.

Last season

Premier League: 12th

FA Cup: Third round

League Cup: Third round

Top scorer: Andre Ayew (12)

Manager – Francesco Guidolin

Francesco Guidolin
Guidolin faces an uphill task to inspire a depleted Swansea. Getty Images

Taking over with the club two points above the drop zone, Guidolin guided Swansea to safety with a month of the campaign remaining –with a number of high-profile victories raising expectations ahead of the new season. However, it took until after the win at West Ham United for Jenkins and the club's board to offer the Italian a new deal despite plans for the new term starting some weeks earlier.

Operating alongside Alan Curtis during the first six months of his tenure, it is difficult to gauge just how much Swansea's about-turn, which included wins over Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, was down to the much-travelled 60-year-old. The Welshman remains at first team coach but with the squad significantly weaker Guidolin's capabilities face their greatest test.

Key player – Gylfi Sigurdsson

Expect Swansea fans to adopt the Icelandic 'viking war chant' this season after Sigurdsson spurned interest from Everton to extend his contract with the club. The deal must be considered the greatest success of the summer, particularly in light of the loss of Williams, not to mention the 11 league goals he contributed last term.

Such is the talent of the 26-year-old, either in the number 10 position or from set pieces, it is credit to Swansea that they have managed to retain him during what will be his peak years. Encouragingly for fans of the Swans, Sigurdsson's best form came after the arrival of Guidolin with a run of nine goals in a 14 match streak. Just how long rival clubs can be kept at bay, despite the new deal, is yet to be seen.

Huw Jenkins
How long with Jenkins keep faith with Guidolin? Getty Images


The appointment of Guidolin last January saw him become the fourth different coach to lead the club in 23 months, and that instability has seen Swansea's expectations and results spiral downwards. No longer are the club the stylish outfit they were upon arriving in the Premier League, nowadays they grind out results at home and are unambitious away. Replacements for high profile departures are largely unproven and with the club's recent recruitment history poor, it would be no surprise to see them make up the numbers at the bottom.

IBT prediction - 18th

Comparisons with Barcelona are as distant now as Swansea's hopes of flirting with the top half in the Premier League. Much like last season, survival must be the chief aim, and it's a battle that with depleted resources they are likely to lose.