No Need for Panic Over Ashley Williams Speculation

Christopher Lee

Multiple sources have reported a strong Liverpool interest in bringing Ashley Williams to Merseyside, but with little to suggest that there's anything new to add to the story since links first arose last summer, there's not really any need for hand-wringing just yet.

When Brendan Rodgers brought Fabio Borini and Joe Allen to Liverpool last summer, it was clear that he had an intent and purpose in mind; he was familiar with both players from their respective days at Swansea, and with so much clamor over the style and system that Rodgers would be bringing to the club, it made sense that he'd pursue players that were relatively known quantities. The price tags were a bit inflated, particularly in the case of Allen, but so long as each did what was expected, consensus was that they'd be able to overcome any concerns by making an impact immediately as well as for years to come.

But with Borini struggling out of the gates before succumbing to two long-term injures and Allen faltering badly after such a bright start, their purchases have retroactively been cast in a largely negative light. Brought in to support the new manager's system, ultimately neither were resounding successes in their first season, and both will finish the 2012-2013 season recovering from injury rather than leading the charge for the man who was so adamant about their arrivals.

There's always next season, and if reports yesterday are anything to go off of, they're supposedly going to be joined by another former Swansea player, with Ashley Williams apparently the subject of lasting Liverpool interest and a £12m bid. That's outright lunacy at first glance--and second, third, fourth, and eightieth--for a player who's been decent to above average for much of his career. Good but not great, he's not the first player that comes to mind if Rodgers is indeed looking for a replacement of sorts for Jamie Carragher. No doubt £12m could be better used elsewhere (or just on somebody else).

It doesn't mean that the hand-wringing and disaster-prepping needs to start to take place, though. Williams--along with a handful of other Swansea players--was always going to be linked with a Rodgers reunion, and much of the current speculation around the price tag appears to be based on Arsenal's £9m bid for the player over the January window. Maybe the interest and rumored fee are accurate, maybe they're completely

I'm prone to believe that there's interest of some sort--central defense is a clear area of need, of course, with Carragher retiring and neither of Sebastian Coates or Martin Skrtel looking as though they've got much of an Anfield future. But there's also been more encouraging links than Williams, with Dede, Toby Alderweireld, and Stefan De Vrij all linked at some point. They might lack Williams' years in the game, something that would potentially be a valuable asset to help stabilize a defense that's been shaky for most of the season, but all are promising enough in their own right.

This early taste of the summer silliness might end up panning out, or, like so much of what's discussed and catastrophized once the window's open, it might just be another way to pass the time. I'm very much against £12m for Ashley Williams, and if the move were to pan out, I'd have trouble viewing it as anything other than a major error of judgment. There's no need to do that just yet, so for now it'd be nice if we could at least see out Liverpool's season before we start to regret everything they haven't done yet this summer.

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