Other than the potential to get an insight into the work of their new manager Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool fans wouldn’t have had much reason to take notice of Ashley Williams: My Premier League Diary, a book which hit the shelves before Christmas.
Yet in a bid to boost awareness of the book, the publicists in charge of promoting the Swansea City and Wales captain’s tome decided to draw on Liverpool’s notoriety, and in particular the headline-grabbing nature of their star man. Suddenly, Williams’ tale had become just another story about Luis Suarez, a man who the Welshman accused of being “a diver” and admitted that he wanted "to knock him out.”
The words Williams wrote―or perhaps dictated―were hardly anything that Suarez and Liverpool hadn’t heard before, but given that they were part of extracts from the centre-back’s book which were (with expert publishers’ timing) released on the eve of a match between Swansea and the Reds, they of course created attention.
The resulting media fuss was predictable (Daily Mirror), but in truth the story was something and nothing. All Premier League defenders must hate Suarez, as he possesses the ability to make them look foolish each time they face him. Williams was nothing special in this regard.
He has, however, been pretty special at doing what he does best this season.
As the bedrock at the heart of the Swansea defence, a defence which―along with its midfield and attack―earned Swansea a first ever major trophy when they won Sunday’s Capital One Cup final against an overawed Bradford City, Williams has excelled.
It’s not long ago that playing against the likes of Bradford in more humble surroundings was a normal experience for Williams, who began his career at non-league Hednesford Town before a move to league football with Stockport County in 2003.
Impressive years there saw him attract the interest of Swansea, and the Welsh side snapped him up when they were on the verge of promotion to the Championship in 2008. They have barely looked back since.
Now Williams is one of the most consistent defenders in the Premier League, the rock on which Rodgers built his impressive debut campaign in the top division and now installed as captain of his country in place of the Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey. You didn’t have to be psychic to work out what was going to happen next.
Even before the retirement plans announced by Jamie Carragher, Williams was being linked with a reunion with Rodgers at Anfield (Daily Mirror).
During a season which has seen Martin Škrtel seemingly regress, Sebastian Coates fail to live up to his early promise and now Carragher announce that he will soon be bringing his long and distinguished career to an end, Liverpool were always going to be linked with central defenders ahead of a summer transfer window which is likely to prove pivotal in just how the club fare next season.
The much-discussed transfer policy put in place by Fenway Sports Group which only allows Liverpool to sign players who fit into certain categories or age groups will face its sternest test over the summer months, and although it would remain far more likely to see Rodgers make a move for a younger defender―such as Feyenoord’s Stefan de Vrij, who he reportedly watched in person on Sunday (Daily Express)―perhaps a bid for the more experienced Williams would make sense.
Of course there are the matters of whether the 39-cap Wales international would want to leave his club―who have now qualified for Europe of course―and if he did just how much money he would cost, but at a time when Rodgers needs leaders and players who can slot into both his plans and his team straight away, then the 28-year-old is certainly worth considering.
Rodgers needs his actions to speak louder than his words next season, and in a man whose words have already said a lot about Liverpool and their best player he might just find someone who can help him out.