Liverpool should ‘definitely sign’ Euro 2024 livewire branded the ‘real deal’ as Chelsea hopes suffer

Spain winger Nico Williams is a potential target for Liverpool boss Arne Slot

Spain winger Nico Williams is a potential target for Liverpool boss Arne Slot

Liverpool manager Arne Slot has been told he should make the signing of Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams a top priority this summer, with a former Chelsea dismissing their prospects of winning the race for his signature.

The winger enjoyed a brilliant breakout season for Los Leones, with Williams scoring five times and adding 11 assists over 31 appearances in LaLiga for an Athletic Club side who finished fifth in the table. The 21-year-old star has since brought his fine form at club level into the European Championships and has proved one of the standout performers of the competition so far as Spain booked a last-16 place at a canter by topping Group B with a maximum nine points – the only nation to win all three games so far.

Such has been Williams’ displays over the season, he has been strongly linked with a move to the Premier League.

And with a tempting €50m (£42.3m) exit clause in his Bilbao contract, it is easy to see why Williams is being billed as one of the summer transfer window’s hottest commodities.

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To that end, Chelsea and Arsenal have both been strongly linked with his signature, while Barcelona are also hot on his trail, though their interest may have come from Xavi Hernandez, who has now been replaced as coach.

However, Liverpool are also being linked with his signature, with new boss Slot looking to make his mark at Anfield and having been tipped to allow one of Jurgen Klopp’s major signings, in Luis Diaz, depart Merseyside this summer if the right offer came along.

And with Williams touted as an ideal replacement, a former Liverpool man has explained why he would be an ideal addition to their ranks.

Liverpool tipped to beat Chelsea to Nico Williams signing

Branding the player the ‘real deal’, Glen Johnson reckons Slot should beat a path to Williams’ door this summer.

“Williams being linked with Liverpool? I’ve not seen much of him at club level, but I’ve been impressed by what I’ve seen of him at the Euros with Spain,” Johnson said.

“He looks great, but I’m always reluctant to speak about potential transfers of players that have performed well at major tournaments. These players have been looking forward to this competition for a long time and almost every game is a cup final, so you’re always looking to bring your ‘A’ game.

“Nico’s a young lad that looks the real deal and if he’s doing this week in, week out for Athletic Bilbao, then fair play. However, everyone can look good in a major tournament due to the small number of games played and it shouldn’t be the sole basis for a club to sign a player off the back of their performances at the Euros.

“If what he’s doing now is his regular level of performance, then Liverpool should definitely try and sign him.”

Chelsea have also been strongly linked with Williams too, but Johnson is adamant that the last thing they need is another up and coming young attacking star, with their side already awash with the like.

“From what I’ve seen, he’s probably better than a few they’ve already got. As I’ve said before, Chelsea have so many youngsters and I believe they need more experience in the team. They need match winners and experienced players rather than an entire squad of young gems,” Johnson added.

“I don’t believe they need another young winger right now. Chelsea need players that have been around the Premier League for many years, that have won trophies and know how to win. I think they’re already maxed out with youngsters if I’m being completely honest.”

Williams opens up on his future

Speaking just a few weeks before Euro 2024 began, Williams has been quite clear about how happy he is playing for his hometown club.

“I’m very happy at Athletic, it’s the club that has given me everything,” the winger said. “It’s the club that has bet on me 100%. I’m very happy in Bilbao and that’s what I have to say.

“Yes, I am quite clear about it. Athletic is my home, I am very happy, now what I want to do is focus on the Euros . If you are not 100% in a competition for this one, they will overtake you. As for the rest, I don’t know what will happen.”

Bilbao president Jon Uriarte is also adamant that he won’t let Williams leave without a fight, saying he wants his side to battle for trophies and that Williams is a major part of their plans.

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“We have impressive talent in the squad. When things are like this, it’s normal that there are players who arouse interest, but we’re not here to talk about rumours.

“Nico is happy in Bilbao and at Athletic and we’re very happy with Nico. We don’t worry about or pay attention to rumours. We’re focused on creating an attractive project for all our players, fighting for titles and competing in Europe.”

Uriarte added: “The club has room for economic manoeuvre to sign players. We had to be able to ensure that the investment did not penalise the expenses.

“We had to balance the accounts and boost the income. That has been our way of acting. At the club we are always aware of what is on the market and identify opportunities.”