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Inaki Williams Signs 9-Year Athletic Contract Amid Manchester United Rumours

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 12, 2019

SEVILLE, SPAIN - MAY 18: Inaki Williams of Athletic Club looks on during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Athletic Club at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on May 18, 2019 in Seville, Spain. (Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images)
Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Athletic Club forward Inaki Williams has signed a new nine-year contract with the club, it was confirmed on Monday.

The La Liga side announced the news on Twitter, with Williams now tied down at the San Mames until 2028:

Athletic Club @Athletic_en

Because you are a lion... 🦁 ... and because this is your home 🏠 💥✍🏿 #WILLIAMS2028 👊🏿🤩 #AthleticClub 🔴⚪ https://t.co/1TF20g7OrE

Per Sky Sports, the 25-year-old was recently linked with a move to Manchester United, although he's made an emphatic show of commitment to his current employers.

"Hopefully great things can come because what I want to make this club bigger, if possible," he said upon agreeing the extension, per BBC Sport. "This, as you can see, is my house, and all I want, I have it here. The club has always bet on me—it has given me everything. I feel it is my home."

Spanish football journalist David Cartlidge noted that Williams' release clause in Bilbao has been boosted as part of the deal, in light of recent speculation:

David Cartlidge @davidjaca

The last deal signed by Iñaki was in January 2018 (until 2025). A new one has been in the works for some time as there was caution on the part of Athletic in regards to the clause. He also joins the top earner group at Athletic w/ Muniain Raúl García and Iñigo Martínez.

Williams has established himself as a key player for the Basque outfit in recent years. Bet365 tracked his rise from academy prospect to his current position:

bet365 @bet365

Iñaki Williams: - Born in Bilbao - Came through the Athletic Bilbao youth setup - Represented the club's B team - Made over 150 appearances for the first team - Signed a new *nine-year* contract "Because you are a lion and this is your home." 🦁 https://t.co/d87FJ7VSWF

Although there are still raw parts to his game, when he's in form the Spain international is one of the most devastating attackers in La Liga.

Williams can play across the front line, providing penetration from wide areas or offering a threat in behind the opposition defence when used through the middle. Last season, he added more of a goal threat to his game, netting 13 times in 38 La Liga appearances.

The standout performance from 2018-19 came against Sevilla, when he scored a couple of outstanding goals in front of his come crowd:

Eleven Sports @ElevenSports_UK

| ⚡️🦁 | Athletic Bilbao are heading to the UK 🇬🇧 They face @WestHamUtd at London Stadium on Saturday 3rd August! Think the Irons' defence is ready for Inaki Williams? 👀 https://t.co/Q22SVoC2Jk

WhoScored.com noted how much of a threat Williams can be when Athletic are in transition:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

Inaki Williams: No player scored more counter-attacking goals than Williams (3) in LaLiga last season For more player stats -- https://t.co/2xyF2dTspg https://t.co/aQVnNwH0gv

The news will be a major boost for Athletic supporters ahead of the new season. There were signs last term that their No. 9 was ready to deliver on his potential, and this deal means he can focus on his football in Bilbao for the foreseeable future.

Manager Gaizka Garitano will be hopeful his side can challenge for a European place in La Liga this season. The coach steadied the ship after coming in midway through the 2018-19 term, helping Athletic finish eighth after a challenging start.