Arsenal eye potentially ‘stupid’ transfer as ‘significant issue’ puts Chelsea off £45m winger

Jason Soutar
Nico Williams has been linked with Arsenal
Nico Williams has been linked with Arsenal.

Arsenal and Liverpool should not be ruled out of the race to sign Spain winger Nico Williams but are ‘well aware a deal is problematic’, according to reports.

Williams has been on fire for Spain at Euro 2024 after an outstanding campaign for Athletic Bilbao.

He scored eight goals and provided 19 assists in 37 appearances at club level in 2023/24 and is without a goal contribution at the European Championship, but has still helped inspire the most impressive team of the tournament so far.

The 21-year-old winger has been linked with Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool in recent weeks and has an attractive release clause in his Athletic contract, believed to be in the region of £45million.

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Despite this, he will be an expensive signing due to his wage demands and taxes on top of the transfer fee and it has been reported that Chelsea are not looking to sign Williams this summer due to the overall price.

Arsenal are not expected to break the bank to land Williams but Mikel Arteta is looking to improve his attack.

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According to transfer expert Ben Jacobs, ‘suitors are well aware a deal is problematic’ as any transfer ‘comes with taxes and Williams would expect a wage of in excess of £200k-per-week’.

Writing in his CaughtOffside column, Jacobs confirms that Chelsea are no longer in the race to sign the young winger, while Arsenal and Liverpool ‘can’t be discounted’.

Barcelona are also keen and ‘appreciate’ the player, ‘but not for the price’. Williams is believed to be ‘very open to that move’, however.

Jacobs refers back to a report on the same website from Arsenal expert Charles Watts, who says the Gunners ‘are admirers’ but competition for the winger’s signature is fierce.

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Watts explains why, despite his release clause, a deal ‘is not as simple’ as triggering it to kickstart a deal being finalised.

Watts says:

You have to remember that release clauses in Spain have to be paid in full and that makes deals very expensive as clubs can’t spread the transfer fee out over the length of the contract like they usually do.

But in Williams’ case, the wages are also understood to be a pretty significant issue. Athletic Club are big payers. They have to be to ensure they keep their team together given the unique way the club operates.

So Williams is on good money and the word is that interested clubs have been surprised by the wages he would want to move this summer.

Arsenal are good payers, but they have a wage bill that they have worked hard to get in check in recent years. So they won’t do anything stupid and undo that hard work.

Williams is a talent, but he is still young and relatively inexperienced. For Arsenal to immediately make him one of the highest earners would be a risk, because it could unsettle the squad a bit, especially if he were to come in and suddenly be earning more than some of the experienced players who have been at the club for a while. So all that sort of thing has to be taken into account when it comes to potential deals.

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