By Wayne Veysey

12th Aug, 2016 | 3:17pm

Manager: I knew at the start of the summer that Everton could sign this player

By Tom Blackburn

Francesco Guidolin has revealed that he knew in the immediate wake of last season that Ashley Williams could quit Swansea.

Everton confirmed they had signed the defender on Wednesday, with Williams moving to Goodison Park for around £9million.

Swans manager Guidolin spoke about the 31-year-old ahead of his side’s first game of the season on Saturday, which sees them travel to Premier League new boys Burnley.

“I was not surprised to see him go because at the beginning of my holidays I knew there was a possibility we would start the season without him,” he said, as quoted by the Daily Star.

“Then I knew there was this offer from Everton but I decided to stay out (of it).

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“I spoke always with the chairman, but my position was to stay out of it because I believe that when a player decides to go it’s better to let him go.

“He was an important player, but I think this is his decision.

“When a player has the possibility to change and go away for a new challenge it’s correct to respect this decision.

“We have leaders in this team. Leaders are not only captains, and in this situation all of us have to show more personality and character and courage.

“We will miss some of these with Ash, not just the player but as a man.”

Wales skipper Williams has become the third senior summer arrival at the Toffees this summer after the captures of Idrissa Gueye and Martin Stekelenburg.

Williams is now widely regarded as one of the most reliable defenders in the Premier League, starting all but two of Swansea’s 38 league matches last season.

The defender joined Swansea in the 2007-08 season and made 352 appearances for the now established Premier League side.

Williams will be a direct replacement for John Stones, who completed a £47.5million transfer to Manchester City on Tuesday morning that demolished Everon’s transfer record.

They are looking to further their defensive options with the addition of Lamine Kone from Sunderland.

The Black Cats are reluctant to sell the centre-back, but he handed in a transfer request on Thursday evening.

In other Everton transfer news, a new player is expected to spearhead the Everton attack when they face Tottenham this weekend.