Two impressive campaigns following Swansea’s promotion to the Premier League have made Ashley Williams a transfer target for both former Swans puppet master Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, but it seems odd that the performances of his tag-team partner Chico Flores have not excited more interest.
With skipper Garry Monk finding first team action increasingly hard to come by at the Liberty Stadium, Williams has captained the club increasingly often and his impassioned leadership may be part of what has attracted sides which lack vocal presences at the back to the idea of signing the Wales captain.
However, despite looking like a Mexican wrestler – an impression his straight red for a Hulk Hogan-esque high foot three league games into his Swans career did little to shake – Chico was statistically more impressive than his defensive partner.
Man City uber-stalwart Pablo Zabaleta was the only defender to average more tackles per game than Flores in the Premier League last term, whilst none averaged more interceptions than the Spaniard, signed from Genoa for just £2m last summer.
Given 2012/13 was his freshman campaign in a league where players from foreign climes are usually expected to take time to adapt, his consistently impressive performances – which earned him the highest average performance rating of any centre-half in the division according to whoscored.com – should undoubtedly have earned him more plaudits.
If Michael Laudrup can hold onto both of his defensive rocks Swansea have a good chance of harvesting more points than the 46 they amassed during the last campaign, with the recruitment of eight new players – including prolific Ivorian striker Wilfried Bony – sure to off-set a good deal of the squad stresses of their Europa League commitments.
Swansea’s squad has improved and they’ll welcome back the likes of Neil Taylor – injured for much of the last campaign – to boot, so they look like a sound investment at odds of 16/1 in Bwin’s Premier League handicap betting.
Laudrup’s Swans come with a plus-37 points handicap, which would have yielded them 83 points last term, just six short of league winners Manchester United.