Within a few hours of John Stones officially moving to Manchester City for £47.5 million, Everton had already replaced him with the signing of Swansea defender Ashley Williams. The deal was completed for an undisclosed fee, although it is believed that the fee was around £12 million. The experienced centre back will be essential to keeping clean sheets this season, and with the tactical genius of Ronald Koeman at the helm, Everton’s defensive issues look to be solved. Koeman did a fantastic job of giving Southampton a water-tight defense, even when he lost key men to bigger clubs, so he will likely be capable of doing the same for Everton.
Ashley Williams spent 8 years at Swansea, following a £400k move from Stockport County, which was a club record fee at the time. This move came after a loan deal where he only featured 3 times, but helped the club to reach promotion to the Championship in that season. Following their promotion, Swansea spent 3 seasons in the Championship, with Williams being named in the Championship team of the year twice. Williams also helped Swansea to their first major trophy win, when they smashed Bradford City 5-0 in the League Cup final in 2013. He was named club captain in 2013, after Garry Monk stepped down as captain. Since then, Williams has impressed more and more, being a shining light in what was otherwise a poor Swansea defence over the past few seasons.
Williams has not only been a success at club level. He has also been a key figure in Wales defence for the past 8 years, where he first took captaincy in a game against Scotland in 2009, before taking over captaincy completely from Aaron Ramsey in 2012. This was a result of Chris Coleman’s appointment as Wales manager, who has turned his side in to one of the best teams in Europe in just a few years. He led Wales to their best ever finish at a major tournament, reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2016 against all odds, after topping their group ahead of England. His only competitive goal for Wales came in their quarter-final match against Belgium, where he headed home an Aaron Ramsey corner to level the scoring at 1-1, in a game the Welsh ended up winning 3-1.