Swansea City want to bring Villarreal midfielder Jonathan de Guzman back to the Premier League
AFTER ten months of football matches, transfer games begin, and Jonathan de Guzman is likely to be a central figure in Swansea City's negotiations this summer.
The Villarreal midfielder saw his season-long loan stint in South Wales end after Fulham's 3-0 win at the Liberty on Sunday.
Swansea have made no secret of their desire to hang on to a player who has proved to be an excellent addition to the engine room.
But de Guzman still has two years to run on his contract with the Spanish side whose season is still at least three weeks from completion.
Villarreal were surprisingly relegated from La Liga last term following a disappointing campaign in which de Guzman was used only sparingly.
One year on they are pushing for an immediate return to the Spanish top flight. With three games to go, Marcelino Garcia Toral's second place side occupy the final automatic promotion spot from Segunda division.
And even if they drop beneath that, Villarreal seem certain to be involved in a play-off competition for the final berth in the top tier.
The outcome of their season could well affect Swansea's prospects of landing the 25-year-old on a permanent basis.
With all this uncertainty clouding the issue, de Guzman admits to being in the dark about his future.
"I think you know as much as I do, I don't really know," he said.
"Right now, as far as I know, I'll be back at Villarreal. That may change from now to the day we start back, but right now I'm on my way back to Villarreal.
"We'll see what happens in the summer."
Even if Villarreal decide they want to sell, de Guzman's situation is unlikely to be resolved quickly.
Laudrup indicated last week that he expects to play a waiting game when it comes to transfer business as clubs hold out for the best possible deals.
And Swansea may face competition for a player who has enhanced his reputation over the last year.
Once reportedly a 10 million euro transfer target for Manchester City, de Guzman's stock had dipped by the time he arrived in SA1 last July.
But an impressive debut season in the Premier League has arrested that slide. The Canadian-born player scored eight goals from midfield this term and produced form that saw him win a first international cap.
After impressing in a friendly against Italy, de Guzman featured in Holland's World Cup qualifiers against Estonia and Romania, helping the Oranje stay top of their group.
In doing so he became the first naturalised Dutchman to represent the country, having joined Feyenoord's youth academy at the age of 12.
It was also a great season for Swansea who recorded their second best league finish of all time by ending up ninth in the Premier League.
Laudrup also led them to a Capital One Cup final triumph, with de Guzman scoring two goals in a 5-0 thrashing of Bradford at Wembley.
"It's been a great season. Everyone expected us to get relegated even when they looked at our squad, but we proved a lot of people wrong and put Swansea on the map," he said.
"Coming here, it was our second season in Premier League, there was a little more expectation than last year and we tried to make the team grow from what was achieved from last year.
"That meant staying in the Premier League. Doing that on its own is a great achievement. With the Capital One Cup and finishing ninth, it's great."
Swansea might have climbed a place higher, but a final day defeat to the Cottagers dashed hopes of leapfrogging West Brom.
It was a disappointing end to a sensational campaign widely regarded as the club's best ever.
Goals from Alexander Kacaniklic Dimitar Berbatov and Urby Emanuelson did the damage as a lacklustre Swansea finished with a whimper.
"We wanted to get the three points because we really wanted to get eighth place but we showed again the kind of football we can play against a good side like Fulham and we had enough chances," said de Guzman.
"We were very unlucky and they were very effective.
"With the players here now and a couple of reinforcements I think we can do a lot of damage next season, especially with the football we play if we can get the one or two things the squad needs.
"We proved this year we can play the kind of football good enough to be in the Premier League and it will be a great challenge to play in the Europa League too."
Laudrup has already indicated that goals are the main thing he is looking to add to his squad.
Itay Shechter, another loanee, is unlikely to be retained after netting just once in 19 games during a season-long switch from Kaiserslautern.
Swansea are believed to be targeting Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas, who has scored 11 goals in 32 La Liga appearances this term.
And Laudrup is also reportedly winning the race to loan powerhouse Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku during the next campaign.
The strapping Belgian striker rounded off his year with West Brom by netting a hat-trick in the Baggies 5-5 draw against Manchester United two days ago.
The prospect of him and 18-goal leading marksman Michu forming a front pairing is a mouthwatering prospect.
And with the Blues keen for the developing 20-year-old to sample European football next season, Swansea appear to have a real chance of landing a player who is sure to be in demand after his time at the Hawthorns.
But Laudrup may also face a fight to hang on to his best performers.
Rumours that Arsenal and Liverpool are tracking Ashley Williams persist, while Michu's impact is sure to have been noted far beyond the Premier League.
Having had four different clubs in as many seasons, de Guzman knows a thing or two about departures.
But Swansea will hope they have not seen the last of a player who was an integral part of this season's success story.