On the 8th of May 2018, Swansea City were all but condemned to relegation after losing at home to Southampton. While their return to the Championship wasn’t confirmed on that miserable evening at the Liberty Stadium, the Saints’ far superior goal difference meant the Jack Army were soon to return to the second tier.
Indeed, Manolo Gabbiandini’s late strike ended any hope of a late revival for the Swans, though things could have been so different. In our Ones that got away series, we’ll explore the tale of the Italian striker and his proposed move to South Wales a year or so prior to sending Swansea down.
Manolo Gabbiadini – Swansea City, 2016
Back in January 2016, Swansea’s time in the Premier League had taken a turn for the worse. Previously a stable side who comfortably sat in mid-table while playing an expansive brand of football, poor decisions behind the scenes had seen the Welsh outfit lose their identity.
Francesco Guidolin had just arrived at the Liberty Stadium after a miserable start to the campaign and their misfiring strikeforce was largely to blame. By the New Year sales, Andre Ayew had top-scored with eight, while Bafetimbi Gomis had only banged in five, leaving Swansea very light up front.
Indeed, the Italian coach had reportedly taken interest in then out of favour Napoli marksman Manolo Gabbiadini, seeing a bid rejected by the Serie A giants. However, despite their desire to sign him, the Mirror reported at the time that the club gave up on the chase after Napoli snubbed a £19m offer from Wolfsburg, making him too expensive.
Now, Swansea were still over two years from facing the drop after giving up Gabbiadini, though their final two seasons in the top tier were thoroughly miserable. While the Italian forward doesn’t seem to have a starting berth at Southampton now, Swansea signing him may have changed things, giving Fernando Llorente (who would join the summer after) an ideal foil, taking the pressure off the Spaniard.
Two years after thinking he was too expensive, Gabbiadini actually ended up costing Swansea millions.