Michael Laudrup: Only one issue stopping Michu playing for Spain
MICHAEL Laudrup believes Michu has only one issue as he bids to start an international career.
And that is the coat of arms on his passport.
Michu will report to training in Llandarcy rather than Qatar today after being omitted from the Spain squad named by Vicente Del Bosque.
The world and European champions' coach had indicated before Christmas that the star of Swansea City's season would be rewarded for his exploits in the Premier League with a first national team call-up.
But somewhere along the way there was a change of heart, and Michu missed the cut for tomorrow's friendly against Uruguay in Doha when the squad was named last Friday.
Del Bosque admitted the decision to leave out Michu left "a bad taste in the mouth".
He probably was not the only one feeling disappointed, even if Michu has since insisted he has "no problem" with his omission.
It seemed a place in one of the finest international parties ever seen was in sight for the Swansea forward, particularly after Del Bosque watched him in action at Everton last month.
But, as Laudrup points out, it is not easy to make the grade with Spain just now.
"It would have been great for Michu to have to got in there," says the Swansea manager.
"But he has one small problem —he has a Spanish passport.
"Have you looked at the squad? It is quite good.
"Fernando Torres didn't make it, (Fernando) Llorente didn't make it.
"You have to remember that this is the best Spanish generation ever."
The fact that Michu has even come close to getting the nod tells everything about his success since he swapped Rayo Vallecano for English football in a £2.2 million deal last summer.
Laudrup confidently predicted on the day Michu walked through the door at the Liberty Stadium that Swansea had secured a bargain.
He has been proved in emphatic fashion, yet now Swansea need another big effort from their potential player of the year.
Michu scored 16 goals — all but three of them in the league — in his first 25 appearances for the club.
Even if he does not net again this season, his contribution will be regarded as excellent come May.
Even for a striker, after all, 16 goals at this level represents a very fine season.
For a player who prefers to play his football behind a centre-forward — and has done for much of this campaign — it is a spectacular return.
Yet Laudrup must hope that Michu will come again, that his run without a goal will soon be at an end.
The 26-year-old has not scored in six matches since that delicious finish at Stamford Bridge which put Swansea on course for Wembley.
Laudrup is keen to ease the burden on Michu, to stress that Swansea simply cannot expect him to keep on producing like he did in the first half of his maiden campaign at the club.
The Dane says others must step up to the plate as Ben Davies and Jonathan de Guzman did against Stoke a couple of weeks back.
That was the only game in the half-dozen in which Michu has not scored where Swansea have found the target.
And that says something about the way Laudrup's team have come to rely on his goals.
After Michu, Swansea's leading scorer this season is Danny Graham.
He will definitely not be adding to his tally, of course, so there is a need for others to come to the party.
Laudrup is convinced they will.
Asking Davies to score many more is a bit much, for the teenage left-back has done enough over-achieving this season.
But de Guzman — six goals in 31 appearances — has proved he can offer a threat from central midfield, while Ki Sung-Yueng will surely chip in with one or two before the season is out.
Swansea's wingers have also played their part to date this season.
Wayne Routledge — five goals in 30 appearances — is having the year of his life, while Nathan Dyer — four in 30 — and Pablo Hernandez — three in 22 — have also offered decent support to Swansea's strikers.
With Graham gone, however, Laudrup is shy of a centre-forward with any record of scoring goals at the top level.
Luke Moore had not been seen since Boxing Day but, with Graham gone, he appeared as a second-half substitute at West Ham last weekend.
The former Aston Villa man is a clever player capable of opening up defences, but he has netted only two league goals since Swansea climbed into the top flight. Moore has never been a regular, admittedly, but he has never been regarded as an out-and-out goalscorer.
The other senior centre-forward within Laudrup's squad is Itay Shechter, the Israeli international who is yet to find the target since arriving at Swansea on a season-long loan in Wales last summer. Shechter is a busy player who can be a nuisance for opposition defenders.
But he has not scored a goal either for club or country since netting for Kaiserslautern against Freiburg in October 2011, 28 appearances ago.
Given that record, it is hard to imagine Shechter weighing in with a chunk of goals between now and the end of the season.
Unless Swansea look for a free agent centre-forward — and Laudrup has already suggested he is not interested in that idea — then the goals required to win the Capital One Cup and cement a place in mid-table must come from the players already on the books.
And when you look down Swansea's squad list, the eye is inevitably drawn to Michu's name.
Laudrup must hope Swansea's signing of the season can deliver from here on in.
Maybe then he will force his way into Del Bosque's plans.