Aston Villa and Brighton look to have been given a major boost to their hopes of signing Athletic Bilbao winger Nico Williams, with Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona reportedly ready to end their interest in the player.
The exciting forward has emerged as a top target for a number of clubs due to his current contract situation, with Williams able to walk away from Bilbao on a free next summer.
That scenario is favoured by both Real and Barca, but according to Sport, the chances of Bilbao allowing to leave for nothing are slim and none.
The Spanish publication states that there is currently a ‘soap opera’ surrounding the player, who can agree a move to clubs outside of Spain from January.
Both Villa and Brighton have been weighing up the possibility to sign Williams in the coming months or agree a pre-contract instead.
However, that option could be on the verge of disappearing, with Bilbao close to convincing the player to sign a new deal.
According to Sport, negotiations between Athletic and the Liverpool target have progressed considerably in recent weeks.
It’s reported they have come up with an intermediate solution that would see Williams extend his contract but agree to a lower release clause for the future. That agreement is said to be one that ‘benefits everyone’.
New deal scuppers Real, Barca chances
However, it’s unlikely to benefit Real or Barcelona, who were only ever interested in a free transfer given their financial struggles.
The report adds that the Premier League duo remain ‘very interested’ in the player and remain willing to pay a fee in January, if Williams hasn’t signed a new deal by that point.
But even if he has, the fact the two Spanish heavyweights will be out of the running opens the door for both Unai Emery and Robert De Zerbi to get their man.
The 21-year-old has scored 21 goals in 117 club career games and has notched twice in 10 outings for Spain.
Williams is well known for his pace and trickery and is the younger brother of fellow Bilbao forward Inaki Williams.