EXCLUSIVE: Aston Villa are TURNED DOWN by Spain winger Nico Williams, despite being ready to trigger his £45m Athletic Bilbao release clause in a club-record deal
- The Aston Villa manager continued his hot start with a victory at Southampton
- Unai Emery is looking to add more firepower despite three wins in four PL games
Aston Villa have been left frustrated after failing in an attempt to make Spain international Nico Williams their record signing.
Williams, who plays for Athletic Bilbao and caught the eye during his country’s games at the World Cup last month, is one of the hottest young talents in Europe and Villa had an ambition to deliver his signature for new boss Unai Emery.
The 20-year-old, capped seven times by Spain, has a £45million release clause in his contract and Villa were prepared to trigger it.
Nico Williams shone at the World Cup despite being just 20, and clearly caught the eye of Villa
Had they been successful, the deal would have eclipsed the £34.6million they paid to Norwich for Emi Buendia in 2021.
To add to how serious Villa were taking the situation, a long contract with weekly terms of more than £120,000 had been prepared.
Emery, who had sanctioned the £15million sale of Danny Ings to West Ham last week, saw Williams as a player who could add energy and dynamism to his attack.
Much to the new manager’s disappointment, though, Williams – whose elder brother, Inaki, has been the subject of interest from Premier League clubs in recent years and also plays for Athletic – rejected the proposal. For now, he will stay in the Basque country.
The Premier League club was desperate to do the big deal for new manager, Unai Emery
Williams, the younger brother of Inaki, is one of the hottest young prospects on the continent
Emery and Villa’s recruitment team will not be deterred in their quest to add another striker and they have made enquiries about Luiz Henrique, a Brazilian who plays for Real Betis.
He moved there last summer and has scored three goals in 22 matches, producing five assists.
The 22-year-old, whose contract with Betis runs to 2028, is someone Emery – who has moved Villa up to 11th in the table following his appointment last autumn – has been watching and his value is expected to be in the region of £20million.
With Williams no longer an option for Villa, Luiz Henrique is the next main target for Emery
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