Premier League • England

Liverpool abandon Nico Williams transfer after £35m offer plan sees much higher release clause emerge

Nico Williams, Atletico Madrid v Athletic Bilbao January 2022

Liverpool have reportedly walked away from a deal for Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams after learning his release clause is higher than their planned offer.

The 20-year-old has announced himself in La Liga following his breakthrough at the end of the 2020/21 season. Brief cameos in the Spanish top flight led him to becoming a first-team star last term.

In fact, Williams made 34 La Liga appearances last campaign. Although mostly appearing as a substitute, he shone in the Copa del Rey with and Spanish Super Cup, with three goals in six games overall to help Bilbao progress.

Reports have consequently claimed that Liverpool and Manchester United have begun to track Williams’ progress.

And the Anfield club are supposedly willing to pay €42million (£35million) for the Spain Under-21 international.

According to the latest from AS, though, Liverpool have now decided to walk away after learning of Williams’ release clause.

The winger will instead cost €50million (£42million), which Liverpool deem too high – for now at least. Indeed, if the Spaniard continues to impress, Bilbao could have a fight on their hands to keep their rising star.

Williams is the brother of well-known star Inaki Williams, who broke through to the Bilbao first team in the 2014/15 season and has gone on to make 338 appearances for the club.

Bilbao will hope that his younger brother has a desire to emulate and maybe even better his sibling. But with top clubs already sniffing him out, they could struggle.

For now, Liverpool are content with their attacking line-up after big changes up top in recent seasons. Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez and Luis Diaz have joined in the past three years, with Mohamed Salah signing a new contract.

Sadio Mane has left for Bayern Munich, with Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi also leaving this summer. Roberto Firmino is the fifth attacking option for Jurgen Klopp.

Nico Williams an exciting prospect

However, Liverpool could well nip in with a move for Williams if they see him as a good fit in the next few transfer windows.

The youngster only has two years left on his contract at Bilbao, who have work to do to pen him to new terms amid the Premier League interest.

But a new contract could yet see his release clause rise, especially if he continues on his current trajectory.

Can Liverpool really let go of another forward in Roberto Firmino?

Can Liverpool really let go of another forward in Roberto Firmino?

Should Liverpool be considering letting go of the 30-year-old?

Liverpool have a track record of waiting for the right player to come along – but also signing him at the right time.

They likely feel he needs more experience – as well as to add goals to his game. Williams scored in the cup competitions for Bilbao, but he did not manage a single La Liga goal last season.