By 90Min
November 28, 2017

Well, it has to be said: Paul Clement has egg on his face. Although, he won't be complaining too much given the cause of it. That reason, for anyone who didn't see that massively improved performance from Swansea on Saturday, is Roque Mesa.

The brace-faced, tache wearing wizard proved exactly why the Swans replaced Jack Cork with him on the weekend, after literal months of Clement claiming he wasn't ready for the Premier League. Mesa arrived in the summer full of promise, but started only his second Premier League match against Bournemouth - something fans wouldn't expect from a player that set the club back a good £11m.

It was quite obvious that Clement was in a defiant stance - the purchase obviously being one from Huw Jenkins rather than the manager himself. But after non-stop questions from the media regarding the lack of appearances from the Spaniard, Clement was stuck between a Roque and a hard place; eventually giving in and starting the 28-year-old.

And boy did it work. For months the Swansea midfield has been so poor; unable to get a grip on the match, string together more than two or three passes, and ultimately, failing to reach the final third. Mesa quite literally changed the game.

Reverting to a diamond formation - a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 - with Mesa at the base, Ki Sung-yueng and Leroy Fer in the middle, and Renato Sanches given the number ten spot, the midfield could take a grip of the Bournemouth clash. The calm defensive presence of Roque gave a hint of Leon Britton with a bit more flair and technical ability to his game. It meant that the likes of Fer, Ki and Sanches could venture forward more - safe in the knowledge that their little Spanish teammate was still there to protect the back line.

It was beautiful to watch. He kept the ball perfectly, won it back even better, and began that transition from defence into attack that has been missed so sorely at the Liberty this season. Mesa dictated the game, calmed it down and spread the ball across the defence when it was necessary; likewise he sparked counter attacks whenever needed.

Mesa has already endeared himself to Swans fans despite limited game time (somehow); but that escalated when he literally bled for the club. A stray elbow to the head left the former Las Palmas midfielder finishing the game looking like Terry Butcher's long distant Spanish nephew. He took a blow like Rocky; you see where this is heading? Because his name literally translates into English as 'rock'.

🥋🇯🇵⚽️ #premierleague #swanseacity #gladiador #51

A post shared by Roque Mesa (@roquem15) on

The bottom line is this: Mesa has to stay in the team for that added security, for the cushion to allow the attacking players flow forward without the fear of leaving a gap. Wingers need to be ditched; keep this narrow look and make sure Mesa stays in the team from here on out.

It may be a frustrating victory to be had by the club's board and owners, but if Swansea want to stay in the Premier League next season, Mesa has to become an integral part of the team - that's obvious from only one game against Bournemouth.

For the first time in what feels like a long time, there is a buzz of optimism in Swansea at the moment, and we can thank Roque Mesa for that.

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