Laurent Koscielny injury heightens rumours of Arsenal interest in Ashley Williams

All summer, the Gunners have been linked with forwards but latest reports indicate a defensive acquisition may be prioritised…

The combined injuries of Laurent Koscielny and Thomas Vermaelen have further oiled the tabloid rumour mill as Metro newspaper links Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger with a swoop for long-running defensive target Ashley Williams, 28, captain of Swansea City and Wales.  

Whilst details of the extent of Koscielny's injury are, as of yet, secluded to the location - ankle - and not duration, Wenger may still be keen to bolster his rearguard because of Sebastian Squillaci's exit, Johan Djourou's season-long loan to Hamburg and Vermaelen's back injury.

Should Koscielny be sidelined as long as Belgium international Vermaelen, for 3 months, then Per Mertesacker would be the only experienced first-team player available until September/October. This leaves an undesirable partnership with one of Ignasi Miquel, Daniel Boateng or Hector Bellerin. Wenger may even be tempted to utilise Bacary Sagna as a centre back, like he did during the club's pre-season friendly with Nagoya Grampus Eight, allowing second choice right back Carl Jenkinson to fill the berth vacated by Sagna. 

Such squad shuffling, though, could be avoided entirely with the recruitment of Williams, who is currently valued at £7.5 million by, 2.5m shy of a £10m press valuation of the defender who rose to Premier League prominence during the 2012-13 season.

With leadership skills that belie his age, Williams has long been touted with a transfer away from the Capital One Cup champions and to one of either Arsenal, or his supported club as a child; Liverpool. Admired for his strength and power, Williams also has a more cultured style to his game which includes good passing skills and the ability to intercept. 

Swansea City have even begun to search for a replacement for Williams and, according to the Daily Mail, tabled a £5m bid Espanyol defender Hector Moreno. Their advances, however, were rebuffed.

The subject of transfer talk at the end of last season, Williams said last month that he takes any link to Arsenal and Liverpool as a "compliment". 

He added: "It means you are doing something right [but] I don't really read the papers."

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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