Erik Larsen clocking up air miles in Swansea City player search
ERIK Larsen was seeking out the right players for Swansea City even before Brendan Rodgers got the call from Liverpool last summer.
"We did a lot of preparation before we came here," Swansea's assistant manager reveals.
It was not that Larsen and Michael Laudrup knew they were coming to the Liberty Stadium prior to Rodgers saying his goodbyes.
In fact the duo were just planning for their next club, whatever league and whatever country it would be in.
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"I have been looking at players for many years," explains Larsen, a long-time student of the game.
"Every time Michael decides he is going to take a break, to find new energy for the next job or to educate himself even more, we normally make a plan.
"My task is to start going around and trying to follow the most interesting parts of European football.
"I watch a lot of games and obviously, when you see many games, you see many players.
"Eventually, with a bit of work, you might get better at pointing out the players who could be interesting."
Huw Jenkins this week saluted Larsen's exceptional knowledge of players all over the Continent.
These days Swansea's owners have scouts who work for the club rather than a particular management team, for they do not want to lose their scouting department each time there is a change in the dugout.
But what the manager says is of major significance, of course, and Larsen is an extra pair of eyes for Laudrup when it comes to checking out potential signings.
And so far, things have worked out rather well for the Danes in charge of Swansea when it comes to the transfer market.
The likes of Chico Flores, Pablo Hernandez and Michu have all made fine starts to life in the Premier League.
"It's no secret that we know a little bit about Spain," Larsen says.
"We have spent time there, and we have taken in players already from Spanish football who have done quite well.
"But I have been to many different countries to watch football, not just in Europe, but all over the world.
"Obviously there are some markets which I know much better than others, but it's about having a network of contacts.
"They don't contact you because they want to sell a player or make some money.
"They contact you because you are part of their network and you speak because we have a genuine interest in football.
"I have that network of people who I trust."
Laudrup revealed when Itay Shechter arrived on loan from Kaiserslautern back in August that the Israeli international was a player Larsen had followed for some time.
Shechter is yet to score for Swansea, but the striker has played a part in the club's recent good spell having finally got some game-time.
"We wanted to take him to Mallorca," Larsen explains.
"He is a little bit different to most strikers because of the qualities he has, and he had a good goalscoring record at Hapoel Tel Aviv.
"At Mallorca they didn't allow us to sign him, but we had the opportunity at Swansea and we felt Itay would be a good shout here because he has a different profile from the rest of the strikers we have."
There is talk that another centre-forward could be on the radar come the January transfer window.
Larsen has been clocking up the air miles in recent weeks checking on potential recruits — but he prefers not to talk about it.
"We don't need to give ourselves any competition for the players we are looking at," he says.
"Every time a name is mentioned it might be that other clubs take a look at him. We don't want that because we are not in a position where we can compete.
"We want to work in secret to find the players we like."