Would Swansea's Ashley Williams be the defender Everton need?
We’ve now hit August, and clubs are strengthening their sides ahead of the new season. However, Everton have made just one signing this summer – Maarten Stekelenburg, a back-up goalkeeper.
Some Evertonians have grown impatient over the past few weeks with a lack of apparent transfer activity, but it seems Ronald Koeman and co. are keen to get the ball rolling, with brother and assistant, Erwin, claiming this week will be a ‘busy’ one.
Koeman is actively looking to strengthen his side with the centre-back position a priority. John Stones is a rumour that refuses to go away, whilst Koulibaly is said to be a target with a deal of £40 million in the works.
It appears Aston Villa’s Idrissa Gueye will be joining after rumours surfaced of his £7.2 million release clause being met, whilst most recently, Swansea City captain Ashley Williams has been linked to The Toffees.
If rumours are to be correct, Everton have agreed a £10 million fee with Swansea for the 31-year-old.
Williams, 31, has gone on to become one of the most reliable centre-halves in the Premier League and captains both his club and country.
His career has not always been such a heady one, however, as it began with Hednesford Town, a club he joined after West Brom decided not to offer him a professional contract. After two years and 60 league appearances, Williams moved to Stockport, where he spent five years with The Hatters.
In 2008, Williams made his move to Swansea, but it began with a loan move from March until the end of the season. The Swans had the option to buy for just £400,000 and decided to go ahead with the deal, as they looked for two consecutive promotions.
From the off, Williams was regular in Swansea’s side. In his first three seasons with the side in the Championship, he played all 138 league games. This was a stand-out period for Williams, as he earned the first of his now 65 international caps.
He also played in all three play-off games of the 2010/11 season, which subsequently led to Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League – making them the first Welsh club since the formation in 1992. Following promotion, Williams was elected into the Championship PFA Team of the Year, for the second consecutive season.
The 2011/12 campaign saw a new challenge for Williams – football in England’s top flight. Since the step up to the Premier League, Williams has gone on to miss just nine of Swansea’s 190 league games – a staggering statistic when you think about it.
During this time, Williams has seen himself named as Wales’ captain, Swansea’s skipper, and led his side to the League Cup trophy in 2013. Most recently, in 2015, he was named in the Football League Team of the Decade, along with team-mate Angel Rangel.
This summer, Williams led his country to the semi-final of Euro 2016, which shocked Europe, and a lot of England fans who were finally hoping for some glory. He played in all of Wales’ games and even scored in a 3-1 win over Belgium in the quarter-final stage, powering home a header at an important point in the match.
Williams played the most amount of games in the league last season (36) compared to Jagielka (21), Stones (33) and Funes Mori (28). Whilst Funes Mori was initially brought in last summer as a back-up to Everton’s existing first choices, he found himself playing more games than club captain Jagielka, who struggled with injuries.
The Welshman also averaged the most defensive actions per game last term, as his 13 edged Jagielka’s 12, whilst Stones had 11 and Funes Mori came last with seven.
He did, however, fall behind in terms of duels won. His 53% was a smaller proportion than all of his counterparts, with Funes Mori leading the way with 63%. For take-ons, he led the way in completing 100% but did come last in terms of headed duels won with 57%.
Along with Stones, Williams finished the season with most defensive errors (4), although only one led to a goal – with three of Stones’ leading to a goal.
Stones beat the Everton target and his club’s fellow defenders in average passing accuracy with 89%, Williams tied with Jagielka on 85% with Funes Mori completing 84%.
Personally, with all things considered, I think Williams would prove to be a good signing. A leader and a player whose sole purpose is to defend is what Everton have lacked when Jagielka has missed out through injury. He may be 31, but at £10 million in the current market, and with another two or three years at the top level, the signing would most likely be welcomed by the Goodison Park faithful.
Jagielka is 34 this month and injuries continue to creep up on him, and it’s clear to see The Toffees’ backline miss their skipper when he is out of the side.
John Stones’ possible exit will add pressure for Koeman to bring in another centre-back, who currently only has three senior players for the position. Whether Stones leaves or not, there is a fairly strong argument that an acquisition should be made in this area regardless.
A proven Premier League defender with a wealth of experience at a price which would be considered as good value for money, Williams would represent as a good piece of business from Everton.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Ai Kagou.