Everton Need Ashley Williams
According to the Sunday Mirror, Swansea City Captain, Ashley Williams, is set to join Everton for a fee of £10 million. And the 31-year-old, who only has a year remaining on his current contract, might be exactly what Everton need.
Coming off the back of a fine Euro 2016 campaign with Wales, Williams is reportedly in high demand with Everton and Arsenal both said to be interested. The former, in particular, are crying out for a no-nonsense defender, natural leader and efficient organiser of the backline. Williams, entering his sixth Premier League season, ticks all of those boxes.
Last season, The Toffees put in a number of abject performances in defence and conceded 55 goals in the league. The risk-taking, positioning and lack of aerial prowess were all factors as Everton continually shipped goal after goal. In Williams, they’ll have a man who would help cut all that out.
Another nuance of Everton’s defensive frailties last term was the habit of conceding late goals. Williams’ experience and leadership qualities would help the likes of John Stones, Seamus Coleman and Ramiro Funes Mori to remain switched on in the late stages.
Measured on games played last season, he also has better stats than his potential new centre-back partners. Firstly, even at the age of 31, he played more minutes than Phil Jagielka, Funes Mori and Stones. He’s made more tackles per game than any Everton centre-back and more blocks per game, too. Two other areas where Williams was vastly superior to his counterparts were interceptions made per game (2.8 to the next highest’s 2.4) and clearances made per game (8.7 to the next highest’s 8.1).
Williams was also a better passer of the ball than two out of the three. Stones being successful in 88.7% of his passes compared to Williams’ 85%, while Jagielka and Funes Mori completed 84.3% and 83.8%, respectively. Perhaps even more surprising is that Williams also attempted more passes than the Everton trio. He made, on average, 52.3 passes per game compared to the next highest’s 49.2.
At 31, though, it will be muted that Williams isn’t a long-term solution. Nor is he the marquee signing many will have been hoping to see. But he is an excellent defender. At this time, having finished 11th two seasons in a row, Everton will probably struggle to attract the best defenders in the world to Goodison Park.
But Williams will sure up the defence undoubtedly. As a result, Everton are likely to concede fewer goals, thus finishing further up the league. Next summer, they can look again at improving the defence. But for now, the Wales international is exactly what they need.
For Everton to get where they want to be, a bit of patience is required. The squad is clearly damaged after a calamitous couple of seasons and it’ll take signings like Ashley Williams, perhaps unfashionable at first glance, to make those small steps towards challenging at the top.
Main image courtesy of Getty