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Player profile – Who is Nico Williams and what can he bring to Hansi Flick’s Barcelona?

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Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images

In today’s modern era of football, where cohesion and collective ideals take centre stage, opportunities for players to showcase their individuality are becoming increasingly limited.

Given the current trajectory of football, it is no surprise that classic wingers, known for their ability to infuse creativity and flair, are becoming a rare breed.

But in a landscape where everyone is marching to the same beat, it is crucial to dance to your own tune.

And Nico Williams is a player whose talents compose a melody that is uniquely his own.

Delving deeper into his player profile, the Catalans’ fondness for equipping the newly appointed Hansi Flick with Williams’ skillset makes a great deal of sense.

Player profile

Standing at 1.81 meters, Nico Williams plays as a forward and left winger for one of Spain’s most culturally rich teams, Athletic Club.

Known for his speed, dribbling, flair, and goal-scoring, the electric winger has represented Spain in various youth categories and made his senior debut in September 2022.

He began his career in La Liga in 2021 after rising through Athletic Club’s youth divisions. Since then, he has developed into a vital member of the Basque outfit, regularly chipping in with goals.

Primarily playing as a left winger, Williams outmanoeuvres defenders with his remarkable speed and dribbling ability while executing accurate crosses. He is just as skilled at cutting inside to release strong shots with his dominant foot.

Nico Williams – a top target for Barcelona. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)

While the Spanish international is fabled for his ability to drop jaws with moments of magic, what makes his case special is his ability to work well in a team.

He blends in with his teammates easily, offering support and showcasing his versatility by regularly switching places with other attackers or generally.

An asset in 1v1 scenarios

Since Ousmane Dembele left the club, Barcelona have lacked a direct threat in 1v1 scenarios. Lamine Yamal has filled that void remarkably well, but he is too young to handle that responsibility on his own.

For Barcelona to break free from the rigidity that envelopes them, there is no better way to do so than by signing Nico Williams, a player who thrives on taking on defenders, stretches the pitch, and brings mayhem.

In addition to being the second-highest assist provider in La Liga last season, the forward led the league in successful dribbles per game, surpassing the likes of Vinicius Jr. and Savio.

His presence will also enable Barcelona to switch the play more frequently, a vital tool for possession-based teams and against mid-blocks.

At Bayern Munich, Hansi Flick was accustomed to building the play on one side of the pitch and luring the opposition before switching it to the free winger, something Nico Williams could effortlessly emulate.

A weapon in transition

One area where Barcelona falls short is in having forwards suited for transitions. The front line lacks the necessary pace and directness, despite Xavi’s play style previously creating ample counter-attacking opportunities.

Under Flick, such situations are likely to rise even more, considering his preference for attacking vacant spaces the moment they arise.

Nico Williams, with his attributes, would be an ideal fit to capitalize on these situations. Owing to his physical gifts, the 21-year-old is well-suited to eating up tremendous ground in a short amount of time.

Williams could be a great asset for Barcelona. (Photo by Fran Santiago/Getty Images)

As such, integrating Williams into the team would allow Flick to adopt a vertical approach without having to worry about a mismatch in personnel.

Master of many trades

While Nico Williams’ output is respectable, it has yet to reach the elite tier. In 28 La Liga games last season, the skilful winger scored four goals and provided 11 assists for Athletic Club.

However, his contributions go beyond mere statistics. Nico Williams is not a ‘luxury player’ who neglects defensive duties, off-the-ball runs, or pressing.

His experience under former Athletic Club coach Marcelino has shaped him into an excellent presser, as he possesses incredible awareness of his off-ball responsibilities.

Final thoughts

Recruiting Nico Williams this summer is sure to instil optimism among fans after the Catalan giants endured a dreary, trophyless campaign.

Williams and Athletic Club agreed to a new deal last year that includes a release clause valued at an estimated €60 million.

Reports have argued that Barcelona aims to offer a sum higher than his release clause, possibly in several instalments. Athletic Club, typically reluctant to negotiate player departures, must decide whether to bite the bullet.

Time will tell whether Barça can muster up the funds to sign Williams, but given his strengths, it would be wise to execute every effort to acquire his signature.

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