Paul Clement has today re-asserted that Kyle Bartley is very much part of his plans at Swansea, or that he will at least evaluate the player in lieu of an excellent season on loan at Leeds. This has understandably dampened spirits in regards to bringing the centre-back back permanently.
BUT I’m inclined to believe that this is merely Clement posturing to ensure that the player doesn’t leave on a pittance for being surplus to requirements. As a manager you wouldn’t disclose that a player has no place in your squad because it invites bargain-basement offers, so you’d put up this facade that the player is valued and will be retained.
The thing is, Bartley’s contract is entering its final year, a measure sensibly put in place to allow them to sell him should the loan go well. This is exactly that situation, Swansea are simply ensuring that they don’t lose an asset for less than its worth – until Bartley signs an extended contract it’s safe to assume that he’s available for transfer.
Swansea fans also don’t think he’s likely to play an important role:
When we get another CB Bartley will be 5th choice for us
— Daniel Murphy (@dansmurph) May 18, 2017
It’s not like Swansea have a defensive crisis, Kyle is just another entity and if they bring in another CB (rumours are they’re trying to bring Terry in) it’s thought that Bartley would be as low as 5th choice. This presumably isn’t a situation that the player would be happy with.
A transfer request could change everything. The man himself said he enjoyed playing here, Monk clearly rates him very highly (as captain, I would assume) and I’m sure he’d rather captain Leeds and play regularly than merely exist in Swansea’s development squad. So even if Paul Clement wished to keep him, a simple transfer request could change everything.
My view remains the same though, this is just Swansea posturing to ensure that Leeds don’t have the leverage to purchase a very good player for a cut-price amount. I still firmly expect Leeds to attempt to sign him. For me the risk is another Premiership club trying to sign him and offering him a first team slot (Burnley, for example). That would be a more likely scenario than Swansea keeping a player whose contract is entering its final year and who doesn’t have a role in the first team.
I guess we’ll see how this plays out over the coming weeks, but I’d fully expect him to be a top target when Radrizzani’s takeover goes through. Until then…