Swansea City fans could be forgiven for venting frustration at Wilfried Bony's departure to Manchester City last season. The Ivorian was scoring goals for fun, formed an influential partnership with Gylfi Sigurdsson and soon became a fan's favourite at the Liberty Stadium.
It is hard to replace a proven goalscorer, and with Bony likely to have limited opportunities at City, there was a fear among Swansea supporters that regret would be the more frequent feeling this season, rather than satisfaction.
Admittedly, £28 million for a striker who has proven himself at European level can have its element of satisfaction, yet the 26 year old's importance to the Welsh club was paramount.
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Unfortunately, one of the disadvantages of being a club not in the top six of the Premier League is that the superior clubs will eventually come sniffing for your best players. It's feasible to accept that's part of modern day football. Clubs have to move on.
The more obvious option thereafter, would have been to use the money and splash out on a proven striker elsewhere. Yet Swansea manager Garry Monk realised that the solution was already at his club: Bafetimbi Gomis.
The French forward joined Swansea during the summer of 2014 and initially struggled for game time under the shadow of Bony. Gomis managed only one goal in 16 league games while playing second fiddle to the Ivorian. After Bony left however, Gomis has taken the burden of being the Swans' main goal threat with open arms. He has scored nine league goals in 14 games and looks to be thriving on the responsibility.
After salvaging a point for Swansea against West Ham towards the end of last season with a typically powerful header, Gomis had his influenced realised.
"I think you can see in all the games he is playing that he is 100 per cent with us," his boss, Monk, was quoted as saying by the South Wales Evening Post. "We need him. We worked very closely with him for the last six months, getting the team to understand him as well as Bony. He is important, he is my No1 striker and I am looking to him for this period and the rest of the season. We want him to be part of the future of this club."
Gomis is similar to Bony
Although not in the same class as Bony just yet, Gomis's style is not dissimilar to the Ivorian. He uses his power and aerial presence to shrug off defenders and create chances for himself. In addition, the 30 year old's link up play has improved and is forming thriving partnerships with fellow attacking men Sigurdsson and Andre Ayew. The latter even revealed that the potential alliance with Gomis was a key factor in his move to Swansea. "All is going well. It would be nice to link up with Bafetimbi Gomis, who was a strong player in France."
Gomis's three goals in three games at the start of the new season is just reward for his improvement in the finishing department. After Bony's departure, Gomis averages a goal every 187 minutes and a shot conversion rate of 14%. Compare that to a goal every 517 minutes and a conversion rate of just 3.9% before Bony left, and the progress is evident.
It is therefore a testament to Gomis that he has ignored the possible pressure of being the main striker at the club and has instead used the responsibility to advance his own game. He is the Liberty Stadium's main man right now.
His recent run of eight goals in nine league games is superior to that of Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, Bayern Munich frontman Robert Lewandowski and Chelsea striker Diego Costa. Not only that, but Gomis is currently the most in form striker in the Premier League, along with Manchester City talisman Sergio Aguero, who also has eight goals in nine appearances.
Monk expecting big things from Gomis
Monk believes Gomis will only get better. “I said when I brought Bafe in that he would fit in and go forward with the squad and you can see it now,” said the Swansea boss after the recent 2-0 victory against Newcastle.
“You saw it when he had his chance last season and you have seen it at the start of this season. He is getting sharper and sharper. I knew he could do it. He is a bright guy, he understands the game.
"Goals create confidence for strikers and he understands what we want from him and the movement we want from him. He can still improve, but he gets it. He picks things up very quickly and he is doing well. He is in a good moment — he has stepped up.”
Monk is likely to be proved right. Gomis is receiving adequate support from Sigurdsson, Ayew and the superb Jefferson Montero, who has torn apart the likes of Branislav Ivanovic and Daryl Janmaat in recent weeks and continues to create chances for Gomis, who is currently taking them. Swansea will he can continue his form as they look to push into the European places this season.
The football world we see today is one of high spending, severe impatience and a lack of trust towards players and managers. Yet Gomis's rejuvenation proves that if you put in the effort to show faith in players, they may well reap the rewards.
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