Welcome to Last Word on Football’s ‘Returning Players’ series. In this edition, we look at Wilfried Bony.
Bony made 96 appearances for Swansea City and scored 39 goals across two stints at the club in 2013-2015 and 2017-19.
Returning Players – Wilfried Bony
First Spell at Swansea City
Great excitement greeted Bony’s arrival to the Premier League. He was one of the names on BBC‘s ‘Premier League signings to watch’ ahead of the 2013/4 season.
But unlike fellow listee Paulinho, Bony lived up to his club-record price tag of £12 million.
It took Bony just 55 minutes to open his Swansea account against Malmo FF in a Europa League qualifier. He scored another and grabbed an assist in the 4-0 victory.
Fans packed out the Liberty Stadium, eagerly awaiting a thrilling encounter with Manchester United in the first match of Bony’s first Premier League season.
In a 4-1 trouncing, the only positive to take was a lone goal, scored by Bony in the 82nd minute.
By the end of the season, Bony racked up 17 goals and four assists in the league, helping Swansea to an 11th placed finish. He was the club’s top scorer in all competitions.
In 2014, Bony was the highest scorer in the Premier League with 20 goals in that calendar year.
Teams That Bony Played for in Between
Despite the step-up to a bigger club, playing alongside the likes of David Silva and Samir Nasri, Bony’s goal return dwindled.
This is largely because he was just another star in City’s constellation. City’s firepower included Sergio Aguero and Edin Dzeko, as well as rising star Kelechi Iheanacho.
In his 18 months at City, Bony scored 11 in 46 appearances, coming off the bench for 26 of those performances.
Bony was sent out on loan at Stoke City but faced a new challenge where he went goalless for seven games before finally scoring two – against Swansea City.
But after playing for Cote D’Ivoire in the African Cup on Nations, Bony returned to Stoke to be excluded from the squad.
At the time, Stoke boss Mark Hughes claimed that whilst Bony was away, Peter Crouch and Saido Berahino had stepped up in form.
Bony was frozen out and did not feature for the Potters in 2017.
Return to Swansea
Since leaving Swansea in 2015, the grass was not necessarily greener for Bony. So when Stoke offered him a deal to return to the club, he seized the chance. He signed a two-year deal for a fee of around £12 million.
Once again, Bony had a battle to fight on his return at Swansea. He had a quiet start to the season before an injury sidelined him until November 2017.
But, taking up the captains armband he scored against his former club Stoke before scoring again a week later against West Bromwich Albion.
Bony could not save Swansea from relegation, largely because he suffered a long term injury that kept him out from February to November 2018.
When he returned to action, it was beyond midway in the Championship. There was one last goal for Bony in a Swansea shirt, a bittersweet moment in the 3-2 defeat against Hull City.
Bony has never quite recreated the form he first found as a new Premier League player at Swansea.
The formidable forward has since plied his trade in Saudi Arabia, with a more than respectable record; five in seven for Al-Arabi SC and five in ten for Al-Ittihad Jeddah.
Currently without a club, Bony is chomping at the bit to return to action. The 32-year-old Ivorian striker was training with Newport County in January whilst looking for his next adventure after a brief spell in Saudi Arabia.