Joe Williams: The missing piece of the midfield puzzle?

Bristol City announced the permanent signing of Wigan midfielder Joe Williams on Thursday morning.

Signing a four year deal at BS3, Williams is set to become a staple of Dean Holden’s new look City side.

Holden waxed lyrical about his new signing on the City website, saying: “Joe is going to form a big part of our squad and so I’m delighted to have this opportunity to work with him, especially as we fought off competition from a number of big clubs.”

Premier League clubs Leeds United and West Brom were reportedly interested in bringing in the 23-year-old but City have secured his services.

So what can Williams bring to this somewhat unknown prospect of a City side?

Even after Korey Smith’s departure, Holden still has Adam Nagy, Han-Noah Massengo, Liam Walsh, Joe Morrell and Jamie Paterson at his disposal, with Kasey Palmer and Andi Weimann likely to take up the occasional advanced role too.

Williams becomes Dean Holden’s first signing as permanent manager. (Photo credit: Bristol City FC)

However, City have long missed a disruptive type of midfielder, a presence in the middle that has experience and a calm head. Someone that can break up play but also forge attacks with short passes into ball carriers or wide men.

Williams has played over 100 Championship games in his career (102), racking up 8,500 minutes in the last three seasons – considerably more than Smith’s 5,800 in the same timeframe.

Three consecutive seasons in the Championship have seen three relegations – however, he shone in an otherwise shambles of a side at Bolton in 2018/19, and really was playing for a mid-table standard side in Wigan in 19/20.

Despite three figures worth of experience, Williams is still only 23, and has his prime years ahead of him. But, is he an out-and-out destroyer? Probably not, but he’s one heck of a tough tackler.

He stands at 6ft tall, loves a tackle, and seems to have great knowledge as for when and how to make an effective challenge. In 19/20, his 2.5 tackles & interceptions p/game triumphed the likes of Josh Dasilva (1.3) and Marlon Pack (2.3).

And we got to see the return of Purple and Lime… (Photo credit: Bristol City FC)

His 1.1 aerials duals won per 90 is even more impressive when you find they’re at a success rate of over 50% – that can’t be said for many other young Champ CMs like Josh Dasilva, Lewis Travis, Lewis O’Brien, Trevoh Chalobah and Ovie Ejaria.

As for what he offers going forward, his one shot per game would be a luxury compared to the current midfield options in BS3. He appears fairly press resistant, seems like a very good ball carrier, and has a nice range of passing.

A young, experienced, proactive, combative, tough-tackling midfielder will probably cost you an arm and a leg in today’s market, no? Well, no. A reported £2.5m relegation release clause has reportedly been agreed between City and Wigan – a steal in today’s market.

Should this be the undisclosed fee, City have really got a prospect on their hands and the record of improving young talent and selling for a huge profit could continue if Williams’ trajectory is met.

In our humble opinions, this is a brilliant piece of business from the City hierarchy. Albeit, it’s been staring them in the face for months – if not, a couple of years now – but fighting off competition for a signing is always satisfying.

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