Football - Soccer-Only the richest clubs can afford Michu now, says Laudrup

LONDON, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Just a handful of rich clubs could afford Swansea City striker Michu, according to manager Michael Laudrup who hailed the Spaniard as the "bargain of the season" after another sublime finish against Chelsea on Wednesday.

Michu, signed from Rayo Vallecano for two million pounds ($3.20 million) in the close-season, again showcased his unerring eye for goal as he opened the scoring with his 16th of the season in Swansea's 2-0 smash-and-grab semi-final, first-leg win in the Capital One (league) Cup.

"I'm not the one putting the price tag on him," Laudrup told reporters after Michu had curled in Swansea's opener with his left foot at Stamford Bridge following a mistake from Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic.

"We all know the economic situation in the world, so there really aren't that many clubs who can buy him.

"There are some here. In Spain there are only two. Italy, I don't think so. They're trying to sell. Bayern Munich in Germany... so only a few, few clubs."

In a sport increasingly dominated by spiralling transfer fees, Michu's acquisition is a clear indication that diamonds can still be unearthed in the mines of European football.

His display on Wednesday gave rise to inevitable comparisons with compatriot Fernando Torres, who was jeered by home fans as he again drew a blank in his 100th appearance for Chelsea.

Torres, signed for 50 million pounds from Liverpool in January 2011 has scored 26 times, equating to almost 2 million per goal, a poor return in comparison to Michu, whose efforts have come at just 125,000 pounds each.

Michu's performances, which are even more impressive considering he was signed as an attacking midfielder who had only hinted at his goalscoring potential in La Liga last season, have led to questions about whether Swansea will be able to hang on to their prize asset.

"Michu likes it here," Laudrup added. "He's happy where he is, so I'm really not afraid because I'm so sure he will stay with us for the next five or six months."

"I don't know how much he's worth. Ask my chairman. He was the bargain of the season, we know that." ($1 = 0.6247 British pounds) (Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Justin Palmer)