Kyle Naughton may not be the most celebrated Garry Monk signing, but he is one of the most important, argues Fraser Watson.
You would be hard pushed to find a negative article regarding a Swansea City player at the moment.
After a solid start to the season, journalists and pundits alike have been clamouring to enhance the growing reputation of Swansea boss Garry Monk, while others have waxed lyrical over the form of wide men Jefferson Montero and Andre Ayew.
There has been much talk of an England recall for Jonjo Shelvey, while the early season form of Bafetimbi Gomis already suggests he will go way past his Premiership goal tally of the 2014/2015 campaign.
Related Post: Williams’ Top 5 Swansea Moments
One vital performer however, has gone largely unnoticed.
When right back Kyle Naughton signed for Swansea in January 2015, he did so amidst a great deal of scepticism.
The 26-year-old, despite having technically been a Tottenham Hotspur player since 2009, was seen as something of an unproven journeyman after loan spells at Middlesbrough, Leicester, and Norwich City.
Indeed, many implied the Swans had been ripped off by the £5 million fee, a notion almost laughable in this day and age where transfer fees for players are beyond extortionate.
But Naughton, signed following the waning form of Angel Rangel and the struggles of Ashley Richards, came with credentials.
He was twice included in the Championship team of the year (2008/2009 and 2010/2011), and has been capped by England at under 21 level.
In the 2013/2014 campaign, he made 34 appearances for Spurs, and showed glimpses of the potential that prompted the North London club to pay £9 million to capture him and Kyle Walker from Sheffield United.
In the ten appearance he made for the Swans last season, he brought solidity and balance to a backline that had been susceptible to being opened up, most notably during a 3-1 defeat to West Ham at Upton Park and 5-0 mauling at the Liberty against Chelsea.
That campaign ended prematurely for him after an injury against Hull, but he has picked up where he left off last season, with assured displays against both Chelsea and Newcastle.
Naughton has fitted in to the team’s style of play with ease. He is comfortable on the ball, he is willing to get forward, and most importantly, he is reliable at the back. And thus far, he has not been prone to the mistakes that began to slip into Rangel’s game last season.
That final comment is perhaps harsh on the Spaniard, who has been a superb club player and servant for the Swans, making more than 300 appearances over three different divisions.
So much so, it was always going to take a special signing to replace him long term.
Whisper it quietly, but it appears the Swans have already found their man.