Arsenal Transfer Rumors: Swansea’s Alfie Mawson Worth Monitoring

February 12th 2017, Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales; Premier league football, Swansea versus Leicester City; Swansea City's Alfie Mawson in action as he leaves his marker on the turf (Photo by Paul Jenkins/Action Plus via Getty Images)
February 12th 2017, Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales; Premier league football, Swansea versus Leicester City; Swansea City's Alfie Mawson in action as he leaves his marker on the turf (Photo by Paul Jenkins/Action Plus via Getty Images) /

First, it was Ashley Williams, now Alfie Mawson looks like another potential transfer target for Arsenal after a string of impressive performances.

I have a confession to make. Before I made the awful medical decision to loyally follow Arsenal Football Club, my first taste of football came through watching Swansea City down at the Vetch Field.

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I cannot remember the opponent or when it was, but this trip with my Dad – a lifetime Swansea fan – started a love affair between myself and Swansea City AFC.

To this day I still watch the occasional game with my Dad, and I love heading down to the Liberty Stadium and watching ‘The Mighty Swans’ battle Premier League opposition.

I watched Ashley Williams develop into an Arsenal caliber defender and I even argued that the Wales captain would be the ideal partner for Laurent Koscielny before Shkodran Mustafi arrived from Valencia. Williams had all the qualities of an elite centre-back. A vocal leader who had pace, excellent distribution and a knack for being at the right place at the right time. Prior to the beginning of the season, Williams left SA1 for Everton in a deal worth around £12m, after John Stones had left Merseyside for Manchester City.

Let’s make one thing clear. Ashley Williams was invaluable to Swansea City. No amount of money could ever justify his departure.

However, Williams supposedly wanted out because he realized that after his admirable performances as Wales captain during the European Championships, it was probably his last chance to move to a ‘bigger club’.

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It’s no coincidence that Swansea struggled massively after Williams’ departure. They conceded 44 goals in 19 Premier League games before the turn of the year. Everton only conceded 23. Williams has started at the heart of Ronald Koeman’s defense 23 times this season and has helped push ‘The Toffees’ up the table.

Since taking the reigns from Bob Bradley, Paul Clement has rejuvenated the entire club and has propelled Swansea out of the relegation zone. At the time of writing, Swansea lie in 15th place, 4 points clear of the relegation zone after 4 wins from 6 games in 2017. When Clement took over, Swansea looked dead and gone.

A new-found defensive resilience has been key to this uptick in form and a 23-year-old Alfie Mawson – who was signed from Barnsley in the summer – has fans salivating.

The London-born defender found game time hard to come by under Francesco Guidolin. Bob Bradley was the one who really gave Mawson his chance on the big stage, but despite an impressive debut against Watford, Mawson was central to a Bradley side scrutinized for its defensive incapabilities.

Nonetheless, Mawson is now one of the first names on the teamsheet. His leadership – on and off the field – tough tackling, aerial ability, and positional guile are already drawing comparisons to Ashley Williams. His composure on the ball and his distribution of it is something that John Stones would be proud of. He also has more goals in 2017 (3) than both Daniel Sturridge and Wayne Rooney (2). This is hard to believe even for Mawson himself, as only a few years ago, he was working part-time on his dad’s fruit and veg stall at Ealing market.

When you look at the centre-back situation at the Emirates, it’s very muddy. Despite the fact that Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi have established a formidable centre-back pairing, Koscielny is 31 years old. Gabriel is nothing more than solid depth and despite the fact that Calum Chambers is flourishing on loan at Middlesbrough, his route to the first-team will be tough once he returns.

I recently wrote an article stating my opinion regarding Per Mertesacker’s contract extension, in which I essentially say that the extension will hinder the development of both Rob Holding and Calum Chambers and that Arsenal should not have presented the former German international with new terms.

Nonetheless, sitting in the stands as Mawson kept former Arsenal transfer target Jamie Vardy in check, I realized that I was watching a real talent who could far exceed Swansea City. Nonetheless, whether he’s the true heir to Ashley Williams for Swansea is yet to be seen and only time will tell whether or not he will develop into a top-quality centre-back.

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As of now, Alfie Mawson is not required at the Emirates Stadium, but I am incredibly confident that he will develop into a first class centre-back. Arsenal need to be ready to pounce when that happens.