When Roque Mesa was signed by Swansea City in the summer it was considered a coup by many who were already familiar with the 28-year-old Spanish midfielder.
He was rumoured to be a Tottenham Hotspur transfer target earlier on in the summer with Mauricio Pochettino wanting to bolster his midfield options. The Las Palmas man was in demand due to his impressive performances during the 2016/17 campaign.
Mesa’s form for the Canary Islanders had even earned him comparisons with Barcelona’s World Cup-winning midfielder Sergio Busquets. Swansea fans had every right to board the hype train. The £11million the club parted with to secure his services would be a bargain if he managed to replicate his La Liga form in the Premier League.
However, it appears as though Swans manager Paul Clement didn’t read the script. Since his arrival in Wales, the midfielder has played 133 minutes worth of Premier League football. He’s started one match and came off the bench in another two.
He was left out of the matchday squad in the defeat to Burnley, their fourth consecutive loss in the Premier League, and fifth in all competitions, and fans are rightly beginning to wonder why the Spaniard isn’t getting a look in.
Clement claims he’s giving Mesa the time he needs to adapt to the rigours of the Premier League but insisting he does have a long-term future with the club: “He has a long-term contract and we want him here but the opportunities are there and he and others have to take them.
“I thought he would take time to settle, knowing the style and culture he has come from. I understand La Liga and it is very different, he is making gradual adjustments to his game.”
How is Mesa supposed to adapt to the Premier League if he’s not frequently being exposed to it? He needs to get up to speed and the only way to do it is by having him starting games. He’ll then get a feel for it, find his rhythm and only then will Clement be able to fairly judge if he’s got what to takes to cut it in the English top flight.
Now is an ideal opportunity for Mesa to get a run of games in the team. The Swans are just three points off the bottom and aren’t going anywhere fast. Their play lacks an identity, they’re unable to keep a clean sheet and they’re not a threat going forward.
What have they really got to lose? Last season he was averaging three tackles and interceptions per 90 minutes while completing roughly 92 per cent of the 70 passes he was attempting, with 0.5 of those considered to be key. Swansea are struggling to create chances this season and are relying on crosses into the area. Tammy Abraham would benefit from Mesa being on the pitch.
Only Leroy Fer averages more tackles and interceptions while Renato Sanches is currently playing 0.7 key passes per 90 minutes. Mesa hasn’t done it in the Premier League yet but the potential is there. He just needs the opportunity to get into the swing of things.