Why Stoke City have done a shrewd piece of business by signing Ashley Williams on loan
Williams, 33, has just a year left on his current contract at Goodison Park and the Welshman has moved to Stoke City, who were relegated from the Premier League last season.
The Potters are gearing up for a new challenge in the Championship and manager Gary Rowett has done the right thing by adding another defender before the end of the transfer window.
Stoke were in need of defensive reinforcements after loaning out Kevin Wimmer to Hannover. Rowett had just Bruno Martins Indi and Ryan Shawcross, with Kurt Zouma returning to Chelsea after his loan spell. 19-year-old Harry Souttar has been impressive but would continue to develop if he goes out on loan and gains experience.
So, a move for Williams makes complete sense for Stoke. He has returned to action after suffering a lung disorder and also endured a tumultuous run with the Toffees.
The 33-year-old hasn’t quite found the same form that he had during his Swansea City days, where he was hailed as one of the best centre-backs in the Premier League.
While Williams is arguably already past his best, his experience and defensive nous could still prove to be a valuable asset for Stoke. He is strong, powerful, good in the air and also has a rich experience of playing in the Championship, having guided Swansea to the Premier League some years ago.
Although the Wales defender lacks pace, he is a very good reader of the game and would add some much-needed solidity to the Stoke backline.
Shawcross and Martins Indi have been Stoke’s first-choice pairing throughout the pre-season but lack any competition which could push them further in the upcoming Championship campaign. That makes the signing of Williams even more sense as not only he would bring competition but also aggression and personality in the Stoke dressing room.
Wherever Williams has plied his trade he has been a leader of the pack and a motivator for the budding talents. While Rowett’s side aren’t exactly youthful, the presence of Williams in the backline would certainly be massive.
Powerful in the air and strong in the tackle, Williams offers everything that Stoke would need in their pursuit for Premier League promotion. With a readymade leader potentially ready to come in at Bet365 Stadium, Williams may not be the kind of glamour name that some fans may have been hoping for, but he will certainly get the job done and bring a rich pedigree with him.