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Nico Williams signs new Athletic Bilbao contract amid Premier League interest

Nico Williams signs new Athletic Bilbao contract amid PL interest
© Reuters
Athletic Bilbao forward Nico Williams signs a three-year contract extension with the La Liga club, amid reported interest from the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United.

Athletic Bilbao have announced that in-demand forward Nico Williams has signed a new three-year contract that runs until June 2027.

The 21-year-old, who was due to see his original deal expire next summer, has been heavily linked with a possible exit from the La Liga club amid reported interest from a plethora of top European clubs.

Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have allegedly expressed their interest in Williams, with the former understood to have made contact with the player's agent earlier this season.

A number of Premier League clubs including Manchester United, Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea, Brighton & Hove Albion and Aston Villa have also been credited with an interest in the highly-rated forward.

However, Williams appears to have ended speculation about his future as he has put pen to paper on a new long-term contract with boyhood club Bilbao.

"I'm very happy to be here in Bilbao, I'm very happy to be here with my people and with this great family that his Athletic Club," Williams said as quoted by the club's official social media account 'X'.

"I have to thank my teammates for giving me this opportunity. I've been here since I was 11 years old, but it's been a very long journey all the way from the lower age groups.

"I [have not] forgotten all those coaches I've had, they have all helped me to be who I am today. This is a dream come true, I am happy and I have to keep working hard."

"To be honest, I'm very happy to be staying at my home," Williams added. "Hopefully we can achieve the goals we've set and if everything goes right we'll get into Europe.

"I have to thank the fans too, they've supported me from the first minute, in the good times and the bad, which is important.

"I hope to pay that back, starting on Saturday (against Rayo Vallecano) and make them proud of us, as were going to keep fighting with a lot of spirit".

Commenting on Williams's new deal at a press conference on Friday, head coach Ernesto Valverde has said that the announcement sends a "beneficial message" to the youngsters in Athletic's youth system.

"It's something we've been expecting for a while," said Valverde. "It's important for us, for the stability of the club, knowing that young players like Nico can be here for a long time.

"It's good for the players, for us and for the club's general outlook. This benefits us in many ways, for what he brings us on the pitch and for the message it conveys to the players working at Lezama."

Since making his senior debut in April 2021, Williams has made a total of 96 appearances for Bilbao in all competitions, scoring 13 goals and registering 14 assists.

The 11-cap Spain international chipped in with nine goals and six assists in 43 games last season, and he has since contributed with one goal and seven assists in 11 La Liga matches this term, with Bilbao currently sitting fifth in the top-flight table.

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