Managing an English Premier League team is tireless work, as the end of one campaign is really just the start of another. This may be why Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger scowls all the time. But adding a player like Swansea City’s Ashley Williams during the summer transfer window just might bring the slightest of smiles to the Frenchman’s face.
Rumors have started swirling about the Gunners’ interest in the 28-year-old centre-back, and the speculation over his departure has forced Swansea manager Michael Laudrup to comment on the situation.
Per The Daily Mirror’s Phil Cadden, Laudrup said, "When there are rumours about these clubs wanting someone from here, it is because the player has done well. What can I do? I can’t call Arsenal and say, 'Is it true?' I don’t think Arsene Wenger would answer."
While Laudrup is obviously correct about Wenger being unwilling to admit his desire to bring Williams to North London, it is not difficult to see why the longtime Gunners boss is eyeing the 28-year-old to bolster his back line.
Williams has proven throughout this campaign that he has all the qualities to fit seamlessly into the lineup of a top-tier European side. His size, strength and athleticism give him all the physical tools necessary to be a top player at his position.
In addition, he has worn the captain’s armband during one of Swansea’s best campaigns in club history, showing his fantastic leadership. He has also started all but one of the Swans’ Premiership matches, and Wenger should have no concerns about his ability to perform consistently throughout a campaign.
If these qualities do not provide Gunners supporters with enough to like about Williams, he would also be an ideal fit for Arsenal’s style.
Wenger has a reputation for executing modern tactics featuring plenty of movement and short passes, and the team once again leads the Premier League in possession and pass-success percentages, according to Whoscored.com.
Swansea play a similar style under Laudrup, and the team ranks fifth in those two categories. Williams himself has completed 86.8 percent of his passes this season, per Whoscored.com.
The Gunners do have three quality centre-backs in Thomas Vermaelen, Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, but more depth at the position would certainly benefit the team.
Vermaelen has been the subject of transfer rumors, and Williams would be an excellent replacement if the Belgian leaves.
Even if all three players remain at the Emirates, Mertesacker’s lack of pace causes serious problems against certain teams, and Koscielny has fallen out of favor with Wenger this season. The Frenchman has been included in the starting 11 in just 10 Premiership matches.
Whether Wenger plans on making Williams a first-team regular or a part of a rotation of centre-backs, the Swansea skipper would be up for the challenge. The Gunners defense would be much better off with Williams in the squad.