Michael Laudrup determined to keep Ashley Williams at Swansea City amid Arsenal interest
MICHAEL Laudrup is not surprised that Ashley Williams is being linked with Arsenal — but insists he does not want to let the Wales skipper go.
Arsene Wenger will get a chance to run a first-hand check on Williams this weekend when the Gunners come to the Liberty.
But it is thought Wenger’s scouts have been keeping tabs on the Swansea centre-back for some time as Arsenal weigh up a possible summer offer.
Laudrup concedes it is no shock that Williams is being touted for a big-money move given his continued excellence at the heart of Swansea’s defence.
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But the Swansea boss is determined to ensure the Williams-Chico Flores pairing which has worked so well for him this year will still be in place come August.
“I think Ash has had a great season,” Laudrup said.
“He had a month at the beginning where he had a few games where he was a little unlucky, but that says even more about him — that he comes back and plays to a fantastic level.
“He and Chico have been a great pair. They are doing great together and I will be very unhappy to lose that pairing for next season.
“But when players are doing well it’s a possibility. Ash has done very well and that’s maybe why some clubs are looking at him.”
Arsenal have been mentioned as potential suitors for Williams, a commanding presence who may be just what is required at the Emirates.
Liverpool’s former Swansea boss Brendan Rodgers is thought to be another admirer, but Swansea will be desperate to retain the services of one of their most consistent performers.
Laudrup, typically, is refusing to get to flustered by speculation surrounding Williams.
The 28-year-old signed a new contract in the autumn which ties him to Swansea until the summer of 2015.
“When there are rumours about these clubs wanting someone from here it is because the player has done well,” Laudrup added.
“What can I do? I can’t call Arsenal and say ‘Is it true?’.
“This speculation is part of the game. We will have to live with these stories, but they mean people have seen what we have done here and what the players have done.”
While Williams will play, Flores is unlikely to feature against Arsenal because of the ankle ligament injury which he suffered on February 9.
But there is better news of Leon Britton, who has a chance of facing the club he played for as a teenager having missed last weekend’s trip to West Brom with a hip problem.
Luke Moore is expected to be fit even though it has emerged he came off at the Hawthorns with a calf problem.
Kemy Agustien (thigh) is improving quickly but is unlikely to feature this weekend, while Neil Taylor is also edging towards a first-team return having been out since September with a shattered ankle.