Hello fellow soccer enthusiasts! For my first series as an author on this blog, I will be taking a look at the some of the soccer players, from leagues throughout the world, who stood out to me this season with breakout years.
To start things off with a bang, the subject today will be the undisputed Swansea star, Miguel Perez Cuesta, better known as Michu. This Spanish wonder boy is partially interesting because he actually is not a boy at all. At 27 years of age, Michu is considered to be a seasoned veteran, having already played at Real Oviedo (his local team), Celta de Vigo, and Rayo Vallecano before finally making his move to Swansea in 2012. The early portions of his career were unremarkable and, for a while, it seemed that he would finish his career as an average Spanish footballer for an average Spanish team. Between 2008 and 2011, he scored a mere 15 goals in total for Celta de Vigo. At the end of that period, he was hovering into the prime of his career without leaving any indication of a coming explosion.
However, the 2011-2012 season was a major turning point in Michu’s career. After a transfer into Spain’s top division, La Liga, to play for Rayo Vallecano, Michu finally began to hit his form. Scoring 17 goals in 38 games, he matched the goal scoring tally of his last 4 seasons combined. At 26 years of age, things were finally looking up for the Spaniard, and his good fortune continued when he caught the eye of recently promoted Swansea.
This past season was by far Michu’s best, and the reason for his inclusion in this blog series. As a summer addition to a Swansea team looking for more depth in the attacking midfield role, he was swept up for a very reasonably $3.1 million in American dollars. The transfer was not a big news story by any means and there was not much media coverage surrounding it. However, when the start of the season rolled around the next month, it was very clear that it was going to be a season to remember for Michu. In his league debut, he got off to a spectacular start, netting two goals and providing an assist in a 5-0 romp of QPR. Fans and players alike were startled to see such a performance from a player they hadn’t heard much about previously. The fun didn’t end there. By the end of August he was sitting confidently atop the scoring charts of the Premier League and the Swans were soaring. On January 23rd, he scored to help his team demolish Bradford City 5-0, and win their first League Cup in team history. In total, Michu finished his very first season for Swansea with 22 goals and 4 assists in 41 games. Quite a remarkable tally when you consider his age and the general blandness of his previous seasons.
Looking back on the 2012-2013 season, Michu is the name that immediately comes to mind as a player who exploded into stardom, coming out of nowhere. At 27, his career appeared to be over the hill, and it looked like his impressive last season in Spain was his last hoorah. Had you told anyone that he would score 22 times in his first season in England, they would have laughed in your face, assuming they knew who Michu was. However, with his stellar season, he clearly established himself as a player to watch for in seasons to come.