Michu was a pleasurable, artistic and scintillating player to watch in action, and he delivered numerous famous moments at the Liberty Stadium during his brief stint at Swansea City.
The Spaniard spent the majority of his career in the shadows of Spanish football with his hometown club Oviedo and later Celta Vigo. Suddenly, in 2011, his big break came when he joined La Liga outfit Rayo Vallecano, and he took very little time becoming accustomed to life in the Spanish top flight.
17 goals and 39 appearances later and Michu was on the radar of Premier League club Swansea City. The Swans had recently suffered the departure of manager Brendan Rodgers to Liverpool, and installed former FC Barcelona midfielder Michael Laudrup as their new leader, in an attempt to resume their possession-based brand of football.
Laudrup was insistent on importing talent originating from or playing in Spain, and signed a variety of stars during his first ever summer transfer window in 2012. One of those players was Michu Perez Cuesta, who was largely unknown to the English public, but would soon be the name on the tip of everyone’s tongues.
Gylfi Sigurdsson had recently left the Liberty Stadium for a new life at Tottenham Hotspur, and Michu was expected to fill the void left by the Icelandic international. Instead, Laudrup opted to displace Graham and play Michu in his place on the opening day of the 2012/13 Premier League season.
It proved to be a masterstroke as Michu went onto score a brace in a memorable 5-0 win against Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road. Michu maintained his supreme goal scoring form by increasing his season tally to four goals in the next two league fixtures against West Ham United and Sunderland.
Michu netted another brace in Swansea City’s famous win against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium to reach double figures by December. He continued to score important goals during his debut season, including the equaliser against Manchester United in the Premier League and the opening goal in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, which ultimately sent Swansea City into February’s final at Wembley.
League Two club Bradford City were their opponents, and Michu was in majestic form, scoring two goals in a five goal rout over the League Cup’s surprise package of the season. Swansea City became the first Welsh club to win the competition, and the first Welsh side to win an English club competition since Cardiff City won the FA Cup in 1927.
Swansea City achieved their first ever top half finish in the Premier League by eventually finishing in ninth place. Michu completed his first season at Swansea City with 22 goals in 43 appearances in all competitions and was voted Swansea City’s Players’ Player of the Season and Supporters’ Player of the Season.
Club record-signing Wilfried Bony became the new talisman during the 2013/14 season, and Michu was unable to replicate his goal scoring form from the previous season. Fortunately, Michu was able to achieve his lifelong dream of representing Spain in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier against Belarus.
Michu finished his second season at the Liberty Stadium with just six goals in 24 appearances in all competitions, and joined Italian Serie A outfit S.S.C. Napoli on a season-long loan with the option of a permanent transfer.
This marked the beginning of the end for Michu, and a catastrophic injury ruled him out of action for the remainder of the season, reducing him to just six appearances in all competitions in Italy. Injuries continued to persist on his return to Wales and Swansea City manager Garry Monk made the difficult decision to release him in November 2015.
The then 29-year-old immediately joined Spanish Third Division side Langreo and rediscovered his confidence with 12 goals in 17 appearances in all competitions. A revival was potentially on the cards, and this encouraged a return to his hometown club Oviedo.
His career began in Oviedo and would tragically end in Oviedo, after a persistent ankle injury forced him to retire from football at just 31-years-old. He touched the hearts of many people associated with Swansea City and his heroics during the 2012/13 campaign will never be forgotten.