Michu the Premier League conqueror – Tale of Erling Haaland’s idol

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You will often hear people discussing football stars who ‘the streets won’t forget’ – those players whose success at a high level was sweet but short-lived. Former Swansea City star Michu undoubtedly fits into that category. His Premier League exploits were short, but oh boy, were they sweet.

It was the summer of 2012, and Swansea were preparing for their second season in the top flight after promotion from the Championship.

And the Swans turned heads by taking a chance on Rayo Vallecano striker Michu, signing him on a £2.3million deal.

Aged 25, the Spaniard had spent his career playing in his homeland, previously with Real Oviedo and Celta Vigo.

A low-risk signing, sure, but was he really the player that would help Swansea maintain their Premier League status?

Michu silenced those doubts fairly quickly. He netted twice on his competitive debut to take off, a 5-0 rout against Queens Park Rangers, and he didn’t come down for the remainder of the season.

He finished his maiden campaign with 22 goals in 43 games in all competitions, firing Michael Laudrup’s side to ninth in the Premier League and League Cup glory.

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Michu was even linked with a move to Liverpool in January 2013, just six months after his arrival, as Brendan Rodgers eyed a new striker.

But he remained in South Wales, and the Reds recruited Daniel Sturridge from Chelsea instead.

His eye-catching antics earned him a double-whammy at Swansea’s End of Season Awards, being named the club’s Player of the Season and the Supporters’ Player of the Year.

Soon after, he earned his first and only Spain cap in a 2-1 win against Belarus in October 2013. However, things didn’t get better than that as a sharp decline followed.

Michu scored just twice in his second season at Swansea before leaving on loan to Napoli in the 2014/15 campaign, playing just six times. He was released in 2015.

After struggling to shrug off ‘one-season wonder’ accusations at Spanish lower-league side Langreo, he returned to Real Oviedo in 2016.

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But Michu’s ankle issues started to build, and he hung up his boots a year later, to this day sparking the same question. ‘What happened?’

In June 2018, Michu returned to Langreo as their director of football while his brother was at the club as head coach.

Just 10 months later, he replicated the final transfer of his playing career by switching to Oviedo as technical secretary.

Michu only spent eight months in that role, though, terminating his contract in December 2019 to become a director of football once more at Burgos.

While Michu will forever be remembered for his 12/13 season, his legacy is living on in the form of Manchester City striker Erling Haaland.

The Norwegian is taking ‘making an impact’ to a whole new level after his summer arrival, scoring 42 goals in 37 games for Man City this term.

Michu has had an influence on Haaland, who reportedly asked him for advice before joining from Borussia Dortmund and has also mirrored his iconic celebration.

And in a previous interview, Haaland admitted his admiration for Michu, who he tagged himself as in several Instagram posts in his youth.

In 2020, he told One Football: “Michu, I loved watching him at Swansea. He played with his left foot. He was tall and a clinical finisher.

“I have always liked to see other strikers do well. That’s probably why I’ve always liked to be sharp. That is why I liked Michu so much.

“A forward in the flow zone, there is nothing better than looking at this. I have always enjoyed watching him. Simply my whole life.”

Michu has left a lasting impact on not just Haaland but the Premier League as a whole. In some ways, the condensed period in which he graced the competition with his brilliance made him all the more special.

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