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Chelsea, Aston Villa 'cool interest in La Liga attacker'

Chelsea, Aston Villa 'cool interest in La Liga attacker'
© Reuters
Chelsea and Aston Villa reportedly cool their interest in Athletic Bilbao attacker Nico Williams due to the Spaniard's salary demands.

Chelsea and Aston Villa have reportedly taken a step back from pursuing a highly-rated La Liga attacker due to his salary demands.

Athletic Bilbao protege Nico Williams is considered the jewel in the Basque outfit's crown and has shone for his boyhood team this year, particularly on the playmaking front.

While the 21-year-old has only managed a modest seven goals in 34 appearances, he has set up a further 16, providing 11 assists in 28 La Liga matches from the left wing.

Williams's exploits this term have taken his total for Athletic to 19 goals and 23 assists in 119 matches, and his rise earned him a spot in Spain's 2022 World Cup squad, where he played in all four of his nation's games.

Athletic managed to retain the attacker's services last summer as outside interest quickly grew, and back in December, Williams agreed an extension to his contract until the end of the 2026-27 season.

Athletic Bilbao's Nico Williams in action with Atletico Madrid's Rodrigo de Paul on February 19, 2023© Reuters

Chelsea, Villa 'put off by Williams demands'

The Spain international's renewal did not deter interest from the Premier League, though, the strongest of which has apparently arrived from Chelsea and Unai Emery's Aston Villa, despite talk of a possible move to Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspur.

Athletic and Williams apparently agreed to insert a €50m (£43.1m) release clause into his new deal last year, which would represent an affordable fee for both Chelsea and Villa, even if the former would have to make some sales first.

However, according to 90Min, the 21-year-old currently earns approximately €200,000 (£172,300) per week in his homeland, and he would be after a higher pay packet from any Premier League suitors.

As a result, neither Chelsea nor Aston Villa are likely to pursue a deal for Williams in the summer window, even though both sides have been monitoring his progress and have been impressed by what they have seen.

Do Chelsea really need to go after Williams?

Furthermore, the report adds that Chelsea are already well-stocked in the wide areas, and as such, the Blues will likely prioritise other areas for improvement in the summer market.

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino during defeat to Arsenal on April 23, 2024.© Reuters

The 21-year-old's talent and potential is undeniable, as 11 assists in La Liga is more than any Chelsea player has managed in the current Premier League season; Cole Palmer leads that list with nine to his name.

However, as has been alluded to, Mauricio Pochettino is stocked to the brim with wide options in Palmer, Mykhaylo Mudryk, Noni Madueke and Raheem Sterling, even if the latter's future has been plunged into doubt.

Christopher Nkunku and Diego Moreira are more than capable of doing a job on the flanks too, as is Angelo Gabriel, although the Brazilian teenager may not be deemed ready for regular Premier League action just yet.

The same can be said for prospective arrival Estevao Willian, the highly-rated Palmeiras protege who has apparently agreed personal terms with the Blues, who should therefore be set on the wings for years to come.

Instead, a new striker and centre-back should be priorities for Chelsea this summer, as well as a fresh face in between the sticks if Kepa Arrizabalaga finally heads out for good.

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