Swansea seeking to improve in the air with Ajax man

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Swansea are on the verge of completing their first signing of the summer, after agreeing a fee with Dutch giants Ajax for central-defender Mike van der Hoorn.

Having raised around £7m through the sales of striking pair Alberto Paloschi and Eder, Francesco Guidolin looks set to reinvest some of that dough to address one of his side’s biggest weaknesses from last season.

As long as personal terms can be agreed with the 23-year-old, Van Der Hoorn will arrive to bolster the back line at the Liberty Stadium. Specifically, he’ll add considerably more prowess in the air.

The Swans were among the three worst teams in the Premier League for winning aerial battles last season, averaging 13.7 successful leaps per match.

Clearly, this figure takes the whole pitch into consideration so any assumption that the figure renders Swansea a bad defensive unit would be inaccurate.

However, no Swansea player featured in the top-20 Premier League centre-backs (who made more than 10 appearances) for aerial duels won per 90 minutes. So the need to improve that area is apparent.

Judging by last season’s numbers, the club have certainly found an upgrade.

Van Der Hoorn won more aerial battles per 90 minutes than any member of the Ajax squad, bar the on-loan Yaya Sanogo, who only made three appearances for a combined 47 minutes of game time.

What’s more, the Dutchman won more tussles in the air than any Eredivisie centre-back that played over 1000 minutes.

His tally of 4.7 successful duels per 90 minutes puts him some way ahead of Federico Fernandez, Swansea’s most proficient aerial defender, who registered a tally of 2.7.

On that basis, Van Der Hoorn looks a shrewd acquisition by the Swans as someone who can complement the bruising, physical style of skipper Ashley Williams and deal with some of the Premier League’s more direct sides.

The first of those may well come in their very first game of this season. A trip to newly-promoted Burnley will open up the new campaign for the Welsh club, who are 17/10 to win.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.