Williams Links Persist

Brendan was winning the staring contest... - Clive Mason

No matter how hard some wish for an end to the rumours linking Swansea captain and centre-half, Ashley Williams, to Liverpool, they simply will not go away and this Sunday, like every preceding one of late, sees the story resurrected once more.

Back in November, when Ashley Williams claimed in his book that he would like to knock Luis Suarez out, many Scouse opinions about the Welsh defender were crystallised. He had been a reputed target of Brendan Rodgers' from the moment the Northern Irishman took over and the general reaction to the link amongst Liverpool fans had been one of underwhelmed apathy.

It's never been that Williams is not an eminently capable centre-half, but rather that he is the wrong age-profile and seemed to represent a worrying trend of Rodgers only buying players he knew. The recent flurry of transfer activity, coupled with January's purchases has proved that the Liverpool manager will look to footballers unknown to him as a coach but the fact remains that Williams will be twenty nine in August and, as such, does not seem to meet one of the basic criteria being employed by Liverpool's recruitment nabobs.

Since the season was drawing to a close and the early sparks of gossip and rumour were building into the raging conflagration currently making us all uncomfortable, the notion of a ten million pounds move for Williams to Liverpool or Arsenal has been one familiar to readers of the internet's finest purveyors of tittle tattle. Now, here at LFC Offside Towers, we don't go in for that type of thing so much, but a couple of factors have resurrected the story.

Liverpool's transfer business thus far has been heartening and invigorating stuff but every fan knows that the area of most pressing need has yet to be addressed. The defence has been damaged by the loss of Jamie Carragher and whilst, no doubt, Kolo Touré will help to replace some of the experience and nous, the constant speculation about the futures of Martin Skrtel and Sebastian Coates has left most Reds feeling anxious about what personnel will be on display, come late August.

Tiago Ilori of Sporting Lisbon, Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Mamadou Sakho of Paris Saint Germain have been heavily and continuously linked with switches to Anfield but none of those moves has materialised as yet and thus, inevitably, the Williams connection arises again. The likelihood of the player moving on seems to have increased, with some very interesting comments coming from his club-mate, Ben Davies.

"Last season I would say Ash was one of the best centre halves in the Premier League," opined Davies. "I cannot think of many who were better than him. The job he did was incredible. A price of ten million or more to sign him is completely justified."

Davies was effusive in his praise for the man who has helped him settle-in to first team football at Swansea and partnered him on the international stage with Wales, yet his tone seemed a little resigned when he discussed Williams' future.

"You could see last season how good he was for us and he would be a massive loss," claimed the young Welshman. "At the moment he is still a Swansea player and hopefully that will stay the same, but if he does leave for another club we will have to adapt quickly. We have Jordi Amat coming in as a new signing and hopefully he can be as good as, if not better than him, if it comes down to it."

Not many Liverpool fans will be overly enthused about the idea of Williams in red next season, especially at ten million pounds plus. Were he to make the move, he would, no doubt, be a solid contributor, but the fan in us all craves excitement, madness and fun and therefore would much prefer to see the crazed rolling eyes of Greek mentalist Papadopoulos or the artful stylings of Portuguese youngster Ilori. Over to you, Brendan.

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