Yan Dhanda interview: Swansea midfielder discusses Andre Ayew influence and promotion hopes

Yan Dhanda opens up to Sky Sports News in an exclusive interview as he talks about playing with his 'big brother' Andre Ayew at Swansea, his hopes for Premier League promotion and more

Yan Dhanda of Swansea City during the Sky Bet Championship match between Swansea City and Blackburn Rovers at Liberty Stadium on October 31, 2020 in Swansea, Wales. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors 1:06
Swansea City's Yan Dhanda feels he has made strides 'physically, mentally, tactically and technically'

Yan Dhanda is a player who appears to be improving with every game at promotion-chasing Swansea.

The attacking midfielder's arrival at the Liberty Stadium from Liverpool in the summer of 2018 was seen as something of a coup for the Swans - with Leeds among the teams reportedly interested in the then-England youth international - who was desperate for first-team football.

Dhanda's debut was beyond the stuff dreams are made of, scoring with his first touch in professional football, 30 seconds after coming on against eventual Championship winners Sheffield United on the opening weekend of the 2018/19 season.

As former Liverpool youth team-mates like Trent Alexander-Arnold and Harry Wilson were beginning to enjoy regular senior football, however, Dhanda was often on Swansea's bench and was restricted to 10 league starts in his first two seasons.

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Now aged 21, he has started four of Swansea's last five matches, but Dhanda says spending time on the bench is one of the most important factors in his recent breakthrough performances for the Swans.

"I wanted to play so much [when I first signed] and a lot of my friends who I played with when I was growing up were playing. I was so eager to play back then, " he tells Sky Sports News.

"But now I realise that maybe I have developed a little bit later than other people and everybody is different. And I feel over the past one-and-a-half, two years, the amount I have developed physically, mentally, tactically, technically - everything has just improved."

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"When I am on the pitch, I feel so much stronger, sharper, quicker, then when I did back then. It's just shown me that whenever things aren't going well, just trust the process really and everything will work out.

"I'm ready [now], I'm more ready than I ever have been. I have done so much extra work to make sure when I do play I am ready, and the games that I have played this season, I am confident in saying that I have shown that.

yan dhanda swansea

"I am stronger, and fitter, I'm quicker, and even just sharper in my mind, and I am finding the right positions - I have learnt that from watching the game. Being on the bench has done me good, because on the bench you watch a lot of the game, so when I've been on the bench I have been learning about the positions I could take up and I have put that into the games that I have played.

"Hopefully between now and the end of the season I can play a lot of games, keep getting assists, get as many goals as possible and take it from there."

'Big brother Ayew is a goalscorer'

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Dhanda played 77 minutes and almost scored from a free-kick in Saturday's 1-0 win over Rotherham, as Swansea notched their third straight home win ahead of the upcoming trip to Sheffield Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Arena.

The youngster stepped up in the absence of close friend and team-mate Andre Ayew, with whom he shared the best moment of his season so far, delivering a pin-point cross for the Ghana international to emphatically head home against Blackburn at the turn of the month.

"Andre is a goalscorer. He scores goals, and if you put the ball in the box nine times out of 10 Andre is going to be in the right position and he is going to score," Dhanda explains.

"In training, it happens so many times and it was just nice to do that in front of everyone in a proper game because in training it happens all the time. For me to show what I can do in the final third and show some quality and some technique on the cross to find Andre was so nice.

Yan Dhanda of Swansea City speaks with team mate Andr.. Ayew during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Swansea City at the Brentford Community Stadium on November 03, 2020 in Brentford, England. (Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)
Image: Dhanda talks to Ayew on the pitch during Swansea's game at Brentford

"During the game I felt good, and in the games that I have played, I have felt good and feeling like I am going to create something. And then when Andre heads the ball and it goes in there is no better feeling, knowing you have assisted a goal.

"He called me over when he scored. He celebrated a bit himself first for his good finish but he called me over after! Andre is like a big brother - I know people say it a lot - but he helps me so much, he talks to me so much and gives me advice.

"Everyone is like that at Swansea and I think that is why we have started the season so well. Everyone has a great relationship and you can go up to anyone and have a conversation and that's the good thing about the group."

Promotion hopes with Swansea

While Dhanda is relishing playing a more regular role with Swansea, he is also hoping the part he plays can help lead Swansea back to where he feels the club belongs - the Premier League.

A late run and dramatic final day saw the Swans sneak into the play-offs last season, but they eventually fell short in the semi-finals against Brentford.

yan dhanda swansea

This season appears more unpredictable than ever, but Dhanda believes they can go one better and return to the top flight for the first time since their relegation in 2018, a short while before he arrived at the club.

"Everybody knows the Championship is a crazy league, and anyone can beat anyone but in the changing room every single player believes we can do it, and that we will do it," he says.

"We've had a little bit of bad luck in certain games but that's just football and I think if we keep going and we keep playing as well as we have been then anything can happen, and I think we can really do it.

Swansea boss Steve Cooper hugs Dhanda after his performance against Birmingham
Image: Dhanda now appears to be a vital component in Steve Cooper's Swansea project

"Last season was so tough, obviously we lost in the semi-final, losing to Brentford in the second leg, we were hurt, and we were down and everyone was devastated that we never went up to the Premier League.

"But I think the good thing about last season is when you have that feeling that you are so close - this year we want to go that one step further and get to the final and win the final, hopefully it won't even get to that and we get automatic promotion, but when you have gone so close the season before, I think the next year [you want it so bad].

"If we improve and keep improving every day in training then there is no reason why we can't get into the Premier League and go one step better than we did last year."

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