Basque football is a world in itself, one that is largely cut off from the rest of the ecosystem by unspoken rules. The first among them is a deep sense of loyalty and respect for homegrown talents which is the basis of Athletic Club’s identity.
It thus came as surprising news when Barcelona were linked with a move for the team’s latest sensation Nico Williams.
The youngster had indeed left an impression on Europe’s elite in recent months with his trickery down the flank, but a departure from his boyhood club was seen as a complicated venture.
Barcelona were well aware that Williams would likely renew with the Basque side, but his contractual situation gave birth to hope.
Now, Fabrizio Romano provides an update that all but closes doors for his incorporation.
Williams speaks about his future
As revealed by the Italian journalist, Williams personally commented about his future beyond this season in a recent interview. If his statement is anything to go by, a renewal with Athletic Club is written in stone.
“I’m happy here in Bilbao. Athletic fans can be relaxed, no worries,” he said when asked about the topic.
With the player and the club now closer than ever before to agreeing on terms, one can expect the formalities to go through swiftly. After all, his contract in the Basque country ends in June 2024 and it is in Athletic Club’s best interest to seal the deal at the earliest.
For Barcelona, however, this could well be the end of the road in their pursuit of the player.
Order of priorities
While Barcelona would like to sign a new winger without a doubt, the Catalans are far from in a position of luxury in the economic sense.
With their restricted finances, they can only reinforce one or two positions on the field in the coming transfer windows.
One name who is set to arrive is young Vitor Roque, who Barcelona hope to incorporate in January. The other priority for Xavi Hernandez is the signing of a top-quality young pivot who can take over the role of Sergio Busquets.
With both operations requiring considerable financial injection and leverage, signing Nico Williams was always an over-optimistic attempt by the Blaugrana administration.