Ashley Williams’ leadership skills could improve Arsenal

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Reports suggest Swansea’s Ashley Williams – who has been linked with Liverpool on and off for much of the campaign – may be close to agreeing terms with Arsenal, with the Gunners’ Thomas Vermaelen thought to be most likely to suffer as a result.

Williams has been a bedrock of Swansea’s successful side during their rise from League One to the top flight and could offer the North London club’s established number one central-defensive pairing Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny the competition that has seemingly been lacking from out-of-favour skipper Thomas Vermaelen this season.

Signed from Stockport for a fee reported to be in the region of £400,000 back in 2008, he’s likely to cost the Gunners more than 20 times that amount, with a figure in the region of £10m thought to be the kind of amount necessary to prise him away from his current employers.

Questioned earlier this week about the possibility of a move, Williams was non-committal, suggesting that he took reports of interest from other clubs as a compliment. Goal.com quoted the defender as suggesting “if somebody comes in and the club want to do that, you have to sit down with the chairman and talk about it.”

The Gunners have long lacked the kind of defensive leaders that Arsene Wenger had on tap in his early years at the club, when Tony Adams and Martin Keown overlapped as Highbury back-line bosses and Williams – an impassioned and sometimes belligerent on-pitch presence for the Swans – could be just the kind of vocal defensive presence Arsenal have been lacking.

Furthermore as a centre-half schooled in Swansea’s possession-based style of play he should be able to fit in easily to a similar system at the Emirates.

The only issue over the move that may concern Williams – who missed a single league game for the Swans last term – is whether or not he can break into the Mertesacker/Koscielny central-defensive axis that was such a crucial part of the Gunners’ surge past Tottenham and into the final Champions League spot.

Arsenal are 8/11 to finish in the top four in 2013/14 and at 14/1 to win the Premier League may not be the worst of bets from an each way (1/3 of the odds first two places) perspective.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publication.

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