Exclusive: Arsenal admire La Liga star but interested clubs “surprised” by transfer demands, says expert

Arsenal like and admire Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams but it’s not yet clear if they’ll be willing to pay the big money required to get the deal done, according to Charles Watts.

Speaking exclusively to CaughtOffside for his Daily Briefing column, Watts explained that although the Gunners have some appreciation of the Spain international, he doesn’t expect them to do anything rash in the market this summer.

Although one imagines many Arsenal fans, and indeed supporters of other top clubs, would love to see Williams join in the near future, it’s clear this should only be done if the player’s demands are sensible.

While the 21-year-old’s release clause with Athletic Bilbao doesn’t look like a big concern, it seems his wages might be more of a problem for Arsenal and others, according to Watts.

Williams transfer: Too expensive for Arsenal?

Some Arsenal fans won’t be bothered about paying over the odds for a top talent like this, but is it worth the risk? Watts seems to think AFC are unlikely to see it that way as they won’t want to break away from a transfer strategy that has worked well for them in recent times.

Nico Williams in action for Athletic Bilbao

“Arsenal are admirers of the 21-year-old, but so are plenty of other of the top clubs across Europe and that interest is only going to increase as the tournament goes on,” Watts said.

“On paper, the release clause of around £50million for Williams looks a very appealing one, but as far as I’m aware it’s not as simple as that.

“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.”

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