Arsenal have been linked to enough names on the transfer market to start a starting XI solely on players they've failed to sign. It looks like one of those players that will remain on the "Arsenal Transfer Target Starting XI" rather than joining Arsenal is Ashley Williams of Swansea City.
Here are the latest comments from Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins, via Tim Oscroft of Sky Sports:
Ash has grown with us. His performances and personality have grown with the club and he is a vital part of our team.
He is a big part of our defence and now he is captain as well. He is a good leader to have at the club. As always, we want to keep those players and we hope he is with us for many years to come.
We have had no phone calls about any of our players, and we hope that continues.
Let's be honest, folks—we can put any Williams rumours to bed. If Arsenal haven't made a bid for him at this point in the summer, why would they do so now? If he wasn't enough of a priority earlier in the summer, why would he become one now?
Truthfully, I never really understood the Williams link. Arsenal have three effective centre-backs in Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Thomas Vermaelen, while Bacary Sagna could probably slide centrally in a pinch.
Besides, I've always felt that the need to upgrade at striker, to add a legitimate defensive midfielder and to bring in a keeper to challenge Wojciech Szczesny were more pressing for this club than adding another defender (unless Vermaelen left for greener pastures after falling out of favor a season ago).
So really, it's not all that surprising to hear that Swansea City haven't received any bids for Williams, unless that is Jenkins' cryptic way of saying they haven't received any bids that they consider to be serious inquiries (subtext: stop being cheap, Arsenal).
And it's arguable if Williams would really improve the Gunners in the first place. Would he unseat either Koscielny or Mertesacker? Maybe Mertesacker, but certainly not Koscielny.
At his best, is he better than a fit, in-form Vermaelen, Arsenal's former skipper? Again, that's arguable, and even if he is an upgrade, he's a slight one.
So, like pretty much every other player we've seen Arsenal linked to this summer—Luis Suarez, Gonzalo Higuain, Luiz Gustavo, etc.—it's probably time to give up on the notion that Williams is heading to the Gunners.
Truthfully, it was probably always an "only if Vermaelen leaves" backup plan anyway. And truthfully, it wouldn't be so annoying that the Gunners were out on another player if Arsenal had, you know, actually signed a few big names this summer.
But hey, at least the "Arsenal Transfer Target Starting XI" will be quite formidable this season, right?