The negligence of so called bigger clubs towards Ashley Williams is staggering, argues Fraser Watson.
The country stands on the brink of a first major international tournament since 1958, excitement of the fans is at fever pitch, and in Gareth Bale, we have a star performer capable of gracing any stage.
And what’s more, in Ashley Williams, we have a talismanic leader among men.
This past week has re-affirmed two things regarding Williams – firstly that the Swansea City stalwart, again immense as Wales kept clean sheets against Cyprus and Israel respectively, remains crucial to his country’s hopes.
And secondly, that the negligence of the so called top clubs towards signing him, is staggering.
At 31, some may argue that the centre back is now too old to be the subject of a big money bid from a Champions League club.
The irony of course, is that is only now is Williams beginning to get the acclaim his displays merit. For both club and country, he has been outstanding for years.
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It is no coincidence that Swansea’s dramatic rise, and subsequent consolidation in the Premiership, not to mention the recent Welsh resurgence, has been achieved with Williams as captain.
As a defender, and a leader, he is the complete package. He is powerful in the air, strong in the tackle, and oozes composure and passion in equal measures. And his ability to start attacks with raking long range passes, often goes unnoticed.
If there is one minor criticism, it’s that given his heading prowess, he does not pose the goal threat he should from set pieces.
His shackling of Wayne Rooney in Swansea’s recent win over Manchester United alerted pundits and fellow professionals alike – with many taking to social media to emphasise how Louis Van Gaal’s side have been crying out for a defensive figure like Williams.
Indeed, while tenuous links have surfaced over the years with the likes of QPR, Everton, Sunderland and Crystal Palace – high profile bids from the league’s top sides have never come.
In the past, both Liverpool and Arsenal fans have scoffed at internet rumours linking their club to the former Stockport man. The irony? How both could have done with him in recent seasons, when their respective title bids have collapsed amidst defensive frailties.
Of course, there is no suggestion that Williams would readily leave the Liberty Stadium either. His relationship with the fans, and his ever growing stature in a Swansea shirt, are both factors in already cementing his place as one of the club’s greatest ever figures.
The overriding feeling is that Garry Monk has assembled a squad capable of going further than any Swansea side has gone before. And as leader, Williams will surely want to be part of it.
The so called bigger clubs may well have missed the boat – and their loss, is undoubtedly Swansea City’s gain.