His manager might have only been Monk-eying around, but Swansea captain Ashley Williams will privately wonder if there was some truth to Garry Monk’s words when he said his former defensive partner was now “too old” for a move to the Premier League elite.
Upon his initial arrival in the top flight with Swansea, Williams was widely and continually linked with Arsenal, per the Express, though a move never materialised, while Liverpool opted for Dejan Lovren last summer.
Instead, the closest he came to leaving the Liberty Stadium was a £4million offer from Sunderland, which was rejected by both player and club - as reported by the Daily Star.
But, with Welsh compatriot Robbie Savage insisting to BBC Sport that Williams is still good enough for a top club, he might consider this off-season break as something of a last-chance saloon.
A usually laidback character – he once missed an early afternoon telephone interview with me as he’d fallen asleep – it might be time for the ball-playing defensive lynchpin to analyse his ambitions.
As, certainly, there’ll be clubs analysing him in relation with theirs.
With a dearth of real, quality, reliable centre halves – see struggles for the likes of Vincent Kompany, Dejan Lovren, and Gary Cahill this term – Williams’ age is less relevant than it might have been last summer.
For a club like Manchester City, whose home-grown quota is famously slight, and could be reduced further should James Milner leave in the summer, Williams has to be an option for back-up.
While there’s little doubt he could do a job at Anfield, where buccaneering midfielder Emre Can has become a regular in a three-man back line, and Kolo Toure still has a space in the squad.
There are also well-reported vacancies at Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
A tendency to doze off before interviews aside, Williams is a sharp, insightful defender. Among the division’s top-line centre backs over the last four years, no one has made as many interceptions in the box – Williams, on 44, well ahead of the nearest contender, Ron Vlaar, on 29.
He has also made more Premier League appearances since 2011 than any of his main rivals, demonstrating his reliability, lining up for 136 top-flight fixtures, ahead of Ryan Shawcross (132), Martin Skrtel (120) and Phil Jagielka (119).
While Lovren, among others, has been slammed for a dithering, uncertain start to life at Liverpool, Williams is a decisive defender – making six goal-line clearances in recent seasons, joint-top with Martin Skrtel among like-for-like peers in the last four seasons.
With Winston Reid now effectively off the market – the Kiwi boasting a remarkable record of never making an error that has lead to a Premier League shot or goal – Williams could be featuring on several shortlists around the country.
And that could leave his boss laughing on the other side of his face.