Liverpool and Aston Villa have received a major boost in their pursuit of Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams, with Barcelona now reportedly out of the race.
The 21-year-old was in impressive form last season, notching nine goals and six assists across 43 games for Bilbao, which caught the attention of several top clubs.
His goal contributions helped the Spanish club reach the semi-finals of the Copa del Rey, which they lost to Osasuna, while the club also finished eighth in La Liga.
Williams had a relatively slow start to this season but his form has improved in recent weeks. He has managed two goals and three assists in his last five appearances, helping Bilbao pick up 11 points in that period.
As reported by TEAMtalk, Liverpool and Aston Villa are both big admirers of Williams and are considering making a move for him in January.
Barcelona have also had the youngster on their radar for some time, but it now seems that they are set to pull out of the race.
Barcelona now have ‘no intention’ of signing Williams
According to Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona have decided against making a move for Williams this winter.
Following months of transfer rumours and speculation over his future, the Spain international penned a new deal with Bilbao until 2027 on Friday.
All new contracts in LaLiga require a release clause, and Bilbao have set Williams’ at a surprisingly modest €50m (£42.9m), which is affordable for many of his admirers.
Mundo Deportivo assert that Barcelona have ‘no intention of activating the attacker’s new release clause,’ and their ‘volatile financial situation is partially to blame.’
It’s claimed that Williams has a strong relationship with several members of Barcelona’s squad, but the LaLiga champions simply cannot afford to bring him to the club.
Whether or not the Premier League duo are willing to match his new €50m release clause, however, still remains to be seen.