Premier League • England

La Liga star admits Liverpool transfer ‘option’ after reports of £77m Klopp offer plan

Inaki Williams, Gleison Bremer, September 2022

Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams has revealed that he once had the option of joining Liverpool – but he made it “clear” where his future lay.

The Reds’ front line has caught the eye ever since Jurgen Klopp took over as manager in 2015. Sadio Mane, his first big signing, left as a club legend after 120 goals in six seasons.

Meanwhile, 2017 addition Mohamed Salah has also etched his name into Liverpool folklore.

More recently, Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz arrived at Anfield looking to follow in their team-mates’ footsteps. And summer signing Darwin Nunez, who cost an initial £64million, is also looking to prove himself.

However, reports in the past have talked of Liverpool interest in a range of other targets. As for La Liga, Bilbao star Williams has been on their radar. The Reds supposedly had their eyes on him in 2021 as a replacement for Mane.

Before then, AS claimed earlier this year that Liverpool were willing to pay Williams’ previous €88million (£77million) release clause in 2019.

Speaking to AS in a fresh interview, Ghana international Williams opened up on the chance to move to Anfield.

“I had an option to leave,” the 28-year-old said. “There were contacts in which I kept my position clear.

“It’s nice that clubs like this try to get you, but I was always clear that I want to be at Athletic.”

It remains unclear when exactly Liverpool tried to snap Williams up, with the Bilbao-born star admitting in 2019 that Manchester United tried to sign him that summer.

Inaki Williams a consistent star

The Premier League interest in Williams reportedly reached a peak in 2019 after he scored 13 La Liga goals and assisted five others.

The goalscorer has also enjoyed a fantastic lack of injuries. Williams reached a record 237 consecutive league outings in September and is looking to keep that record going.

Overall, he has played 346 games for Bilbao, scoring 77 goals and assisting 49 others.

2019 was a big year in another way for Williams, who – amid the reported transfer interest in him – signed a massive new nine-year contract until 2028.

His release clause also increased to €135million (£120million).

La Liga star going nowhere

Williams has proved it before and he will prove it again – he is on a mission to etch himself further into Athletic Bilbao and Spanish football folklore.

He has already done that, but by extending his contract until 2028, he sent out a statement of intent over his future.

Williams has proven he could take a career move elsewhere given his injury, appearance and goals record. Indeed, he could seek an easier pathway into European football.

The forward has played in Bilbao’s four Europa League campaigns since his arrival on the scene. However, the club have never got further than the quarter-finals, where they lost to eventual winners Sevilla in 2016.

And Bilbao have not enjoyed any European football since 2018.

Last term, the Spanish side finished eighth in La Liga, four points off a Europa Conference League qualifying place.

The opportunity for Williams to enjoy more regular European football could still be there. Still, the £120million release clause would of course prove a stumbling block to interested clubs.

And given he turned 28 in June, his release clause and age may mean he does not have many more chances to get a move away – if he shows any desire to, that is.