Ashley Williams has been very good for Swansea in his two years in the Premier League and has apparently caught the attention of Arsenal and Liverpool. Swansea have been adamant that they haven’t had any bids for Williams and are laying down an asking price of £10m to try to put rumours to bed. However, with reports that he may be at the stage where he asks to be allowed to speak to any interested clubs, Williams is pressing ahead with his desire.
Apparently, Williams sees his future at Arsenal. But, there are more than a few questions to be asked as to whether Arsenal are actually realistically in the chase to sign him. Firstly, Williams is 29 years old. Arsene Wenger doesn’t sign 29 year olds. In fact, his almost phobic approach to 30 year olds already at the club getting more than one year contracts has only recently ceased. If he signed at Arsenal, he’d be there for at most three years. Wenger doesn’t tend to do things for three years. It might be a different if he was signing Xavi or Cristiano Ronaldo for three years, but with respect, this is Ashley Williams.
Williams also is not an upgrade on either of Arsenal’s starting centre backs. In fact, he’d probably be fourth in the queue behind Thomas Vermaelen too. Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny were excellent together last season and formed the second tightest defence in the Premier League. If Williams did go to Arsenal he’d be sat on the bench. Why does he want that? He has certainly been impressive at times in his first two years in elite competition but he won’t displace either starter any time soon. Arsene Wenger has searched for central defensive solidity for many years and now that he finally has it, surely won’t be tempted to mess around with his excellent pairing.
The only way that Williams would get in to the Arsenal lineup is if they, for some reason, decided to sell Laurent Koscielny to Bayern or Barcelona, his two main suitors. However, Koscielny has four years left on his contract, and is very happy at the club. Indeed, Arsenal seem to be in a position now where they are looking to push up the table towards trying to win the league. Selling Koscielny will not be part of that plan.
The other teams rumoured to be interested seem to be Liverpool and Everton. Liverpool is logical as Williams worked with Brendan Rodgers at Swansea. However, Liverpool’s ownership are unlikely to sanction a £10m outlay on a 29 year old. The Fenway group have made it very clear that they will only invest in players who they could re sell or have for a long time. They’ve only just sold Andy Carroll at a £20m loss and Williams would lose all £10m of face value that they pay for him. Liverpool haven’t signed anyone other than free agent Kolo Toure over 25 under Fenway ownership. Everton could make sense, but again the price tag is a concern. If it was more like £5-6m they may be able to pay it but Roberto Martinez knows how to find overseas bargains and paying inflated prices for players from English teams hasn’t been a way for Everton to do things in many years.
Ashley Williams may be making a huge mistake in asking to leave Swansea. He is the captain of the club and has grown up with them as they have moved through the divisions. The kind of clubs he wants to move to don’t look to be ideal options for him for various reasons – age, price, need, so it’s unclear how heavily pursued he will be.