Playing is what it's all about for Swansea City's Jonathan de Guzman
MICHAEL Laudrup had barely got his feet under the desk at the Liberty when he asked Huw Jenkins to get him Jonathan de Guzman.
Within a few weeks the former Holland Under-21 cap was trying on his new Swansea City training kit in Llandarcy, preparing for a season-long loan stint in the Premier League.
Five months on, de Guzman has 18 Swansea appearances and three goals to his name and Laudrup has already indicated that he wants to turn the loan into a permanent transfer.
For the moment, it is uncertain whether that will happen.
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For now de Guzman is focusing only on the hectic schedule that lies in front of Laudrup's team — and on improving his own performance level.
How does he rate his current form?
"It's going all right," de Guzman says.
But, he adds, there is more to come.
With time, de Guzman will hope to become more influential.
He had a difficult season at Villarreal last year, losing his place in a struggling team — they were relegated from the Spanish top flight — having arrived at the start of the campaign in a deal worth 8.5 million euros.
Having starred under Laudrup at Real Mallorca, de Guzman lost his way a little last term and admits he is still on the way back up.
"My confidence is coming back and I am happy," he adds.
"I have moulded pretty well with the team, and everyone has been welcoming and helpful to me coming off the back of a season where I didn't play much.
"I think it's about playing minutes.
"The difficult part for me last season was the fact that I wasn't playing much.
"Knowing my qualities, I believed I could play, and just getting minutes into my body and getting that rhythm again is helping me feel good.
"Being part of the team, playing every week, is a good feeling and an important feeling.
"I feel like I can contribute to Swansea — and I feel I am still improving."
Laudrup thinks de Guzman is coming along nicely, almost always picking the former Feyenoord player in a department where the competition for places at Swansea is fierce.
When asked recently if he would like to keep de Guzman permanently, Laudrup said the answer to the question was obvious.
Having signed the 25-year-old twice already as a manager, Laudrup pointed out, it is clear that he wants him around.
Swansea may look at the situation in January, though it could well be next summer before anything is resolved.
At this stage, de Guzman is more concerned with proving himself in the Premier League than sorting out his long-term future.
He concedes it is "faster and more physical" than La Liga, but argues that Swansea's passing style means they do not need traditional British powerhouse midfielders.
That is good news for him, for his strengths are technical quality and running power rather than brute strength.
"Our football is more about passing and making runs off the ball," de Guzman says, "and I think we've proved it's possible to play that way in the Premier League."
The next test comes tomorrow at White Hart Lane, home of one of the most impressive squads in the division.
Swansea will start as underdogs, but they have shown more than once this season that they are capable of troubling the top sides.
"We know it's not going to be easy at Tottenham," de Guzman concedes.
"They are a very good team with some individual players who can change a game on their own.
"But we have produced a lot of good performances this season and shown what we are capable of.
"I think that knowing our qualities, we can get a result there as well."