Everton sealed the signing of Ashley Williams from Swansea City in a deal reportedly worth £9m on 10th August 2016, just three days before the start of the 2016-17 season.
Likely one of Ronald Koeman's planned central-defensive additions regardless of whether John Stones was sold in the same transfer window, the Welsh international defender's arrival nevertheless came the day after Stones's departure to Manchester City.
Three weeks shy of his 32nd birthday, Williams brought a wealth of Premier League experience to Goodison Park having played 319 times for Swansea since making a loan move from Stockport County to the Liberty Stadium permanent in 2008.
Swansea had picked the Wolverhampton-born player up for just £400,000 and he would go on to cement himself as a club legend in South Wales, playing in 97% of their league fixtures and earning the nickname "Mr Indestructible" along the way.
In the more immediate seasons before he made the switch to Goodison, he had established a reputation as being one of the most effective players in his position in England's top flight.
A one-time target for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal, he shone for his country at the 2016 European Championships as Wales surprised the Continent by making it all the way to the semi-finals where they were bested by eventual winners Portugal.
Williams skippered Wales in all six of their games and scored one of the goals in the quarter final against Belgium that knocked the Red Devils out, eventually paving the way for former Blues boss Roberto Martinez to replace Marc Wilmots as that nation's head coach.
"Everton is a great club with an unbelievable manager, a world legend in football and I believe the club is going in the right direction and it's something wanted to be part of," Williams told evertontv on the day of his unveiling.
"I can't wait to get out there [at Goodison]. I've always enjoyed playing on that pitch and it'll be nice to get out there to see what it's all about as the home team.
What they got was at times was less convincing, although the stats
in Koeman's first and only full season in charge showed a vastly improved defensive structure, especially at home, where
Everton had become simply awful under Martinez. He hardly
impressed the more critical Everton fan, with none of the driving
inspiration he had showed for Wales, and his waning form continued into 2017-18.
A dreadful start to that season, where the Blues would bomb out of the Europa League group phase and find themselves sitting in the relegation zone by October, cost Koeman his job and there was no hiding the fact that Williams had been party to the abysmal defensive record that underpinned the Dutchman's fall from grace.
If there had been questions around Williams's commitment and passion in those final few weeks of the Koeman regime, he would improve briefly under his permanent successor, Sam Allardyce, who took the job at the end of November. The Premier League's notorious "fire-fighter" moved quickly to shore up the back line and Everton quickly rose from the drop zone to the top half of the table.
Williams was unable to maintain any consistent form, however, and he betrayed a suspect attitude at times, none more so than when he was sent off at Burnley in March 2018 as the Blues gave up a 1-0 lead and lost 2-1. It was to be his last competitive match in an Everton jersey as he was loaned to Stoke City for the final year of his contract that August and then released as a free agent in the summer of 2019.
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