Michu: The former Swansea City star playing in Spain's fourth tier

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Michu scored 22 goals for Swansea in the 2012-13 season

Three years ago Michu was lining up alongside Xavi, Cesc Fabregas and David Silva for the world and European champions. Now he's playing in Spain's fourth tier in front of 500 fans.

Miguel Perez Cuesta was the envy of Europe's top clubs when his goals helped Swansea win the 2013 League Cup and a route back into European football.

His 22 strikes saw him mentioned in the same breath as Luis Suarez, Gareth Bale and Robin van Persie.

Swansea valued Michu at £30m. Not bad for a £2m signing. He forced himself into Spain's team of superstars when they ruled the world.

An ankle injury and a few years later, he's playing for his brother's local side in northern Spain.

Pain barrier

Yet for Michu, who agreed to terminate his Swansea contract early in November, it is all about the thrill of playing the beautiful game while "always in pain."

Michu with his Spain team-mates
Michu (back left) played alongside Xavi, Ramos, Fabregas, Silva and co for Spain against Belarus in 2013

"I'm enjoying it again, after a lot of months off the pitch I'm really happy," Michu told BBC Sport Wales.

"For me it's easy playing here. The best place to get better is here at home and when the season finishes, I hope Michu will play at the highest level again.

"I'm better (than I was) but I'm still having pain, I can't remember my last game without pain. I will probably have pain all my life, but I can't live without football. I need to accept that."

Michu has scored three goals for Unión Popular de Langreo in the Spanish Tercera División - including a lovely first-time swivel and shot against Marino de Luanco in a 2-0 win last week.

Swan Song

Michu attracted interest from all over Europe in the January transfer window and was a target for Premier League strugglers Aston Villa, but says his ultimate dream is a return to Swansea.

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"I miss it," said the 29-year-old.

"I was really happy in Swansea, it was the best season of my life and my career. I miss the crowd, I miss the team-mates, I miss the city as well.

"I miss the Premier League and if I can play again at the highest level again, I will play for Swansea for sure.

"The fans were always with me, incredible. I have something inside I need to give back to them.

"I'm still having pain, but I want to play again for the Swans because they were outstanding, they were my life. It will be impossible to show back the love they showed me but I want to come back.

Michu celebrates Swansea's Cup win
Michu scored 22 goals in all competitions for Swansea in the 2012-13 season

"When you love something so much, like I love football and I love Wales and I love Swansea, it's difficult to play for the crowd without my best level so I need to get back to this level.

"The best way in life is to be honest with yourself. I won't play at the highest level at this time.

"I had other offers in England. It's normal as I was at Napoli. But I wanted to be honest, I want to play at the highest level again, but only when I'm at my best level."

Watch the full interview on Sport Wales on Friday, 5 February at 19:00 GMT on BBC Two Wales

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