Sky Sports reports Jürgen Klopp might be in for a massive €50 millon signing in January 2017. The player that is rumoured to be on Klopp’s wish list is Iñaki Williams who is now playing for Athletic Bilbao in Spain – the club that happens to be my favourite club in Spain.
Or should I say Basque Country? I think that would be the correct term, as Athletic Club is a club with a certain club ethos of never signing a player who is not Basque. This Basque football club has only ever had two foreign players – two Basque players from France, with the best known being former French international Bixente Lizarazu.
Let me start by telling you about Inaki Williams’ background then. His father is Ghanaian and his mother is Liberian, which makes him the first black Athletic player. But yes: he is seen as a true Basque as he was born and raised in Bilbao, the capital city of Basque Country, Northern Spain.
Williams’ international career currently points to La Roja after earning four caps with the Spain Under-21 side.
Having publicly declared that he feels more connected to his Bilbao roots than his African ancestry, the striker has given a strong hint that he will represent Spain at international level.
In an interview last year, he said: “You hear people say ‘A black player at Athletic Bilbao? We’ve never seen that before.’ I just laugh. My name is Iñaki and I’m Basque. My parents came here over two decades ago and I can identify with the stories because they did so much for me. I was born here, I’ve been here for 20 years and although you never forget your roots, I feel Basque.”
After the 1-2 away deafeat against Sporting Gijon in La Liga, Athletic Bilbao made a statement on their website: “Worse than the result has been the fact that the referee has had to halt the game during the first half after insults and racist chants directed at Inaki Williams.”
Midway through the first half, referee Carlos Clos Gomez halted the game for one minute following those abusive chants aimed at Williams.
Born 15 June 1994, the 22-year-old forward has been playing for his favourite club Athletic Bilbao since he was signed as an apprentice when he was eighteen. He has been used both as a full striker and as a right sided winger for Athletic Bilbao. The thing is, Iñaki Williams is what Germans would call a classic Raumdeuter – a very versatile attacking player who can play in a variety of attacking positions. Right winger, full striker, secondary striker (the classic Dalglish / Beardsley role) behind a real up front striker like Daniel Sturridge, or even as a central midfielder with attacking duties, not defensive ones – sort of like what Adam Lallana’s current role in the Liverpool side has been under Klopp.
With his height and pace there really is no wonder Jürgen Klopp would be fond of Iñaki Williams, and according to Sky Sports and Spanish media outlet Don Balon Liverpool aren’t put off by Iñaki Williams’ €50 million release clause. That would be about £42 million.
1,86 m (6ft 1 in) tall, very fast and extremely skilled on the ball, Iñaki Williams has often a time been a goal scorer for Athletic Bilbao for a while now. Not exactly a goalscoring prodigy, but one who can score goals any time he gets in the position to do so. He has a very good eye for what goes on around him on the pitch, is a good passer of the ball and a young assist machine, too. With his good height and pace, it is no surprise Jürgen Klopp would be interested in signing him for quite a big sum of money. He is young and can easily develop into a world class attacking player within two or three years, and would be just perfect for the the Klopp Gegenpressing football philosophy with his high work rate and commitment.
Written by @MagnrLeoKarlsen