Inaki Williams: Athletic Bilbao's Ghanaian wonderkid could star for Spain

Sports News of Tuesday, 16 February 2016



Inaki WilliamsInaki Williams

Athletic Bilbao are desperate for his stay and in January tied him down to a contract that will keep him at the San Mames Stadium until June 2021 plus a €50 million release clause…

Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United have all reportedly made inquiries about him, while Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid are also keeping a close eye…

Ghana are sweating to secure his international allegiance and hopes Spain manager Vicente Del Bosque does hand him a La Roja cap anytime soon…

There’s no doubt that Inaki Williams’ star is rising.

With seven goals in 17 La Liga appearances so far this season, the 21-year-old has risen to become one of Bilbao’s most prized players and could soon become Spain’s.

orn to a Ghanaian father and Liberian mother in Bilbao, Williams’ international career currently points to La Roja after earning four caps with the Spain Under-21 side.

Having publicly declared that he feels more connected to his Bilbao roots than his African ancestry, the striker has given a strong hint that he will represent Spain at international level.

“You hear people say ‘A black player at Athletic Bilbao? We’ve never seen that before.’ I just laugh. My name is Inaki and I’m Basque,” he said last year.

“My parents came here over two decades ago and I can identify with the stories because they did so much for me. I was born here, I’ve been here for 20 years and although you never forget your roots, I feel Basque.”

Being Bilbao’s second highest scorer this term after Aritz Aduriz, with whom he has formed a potent striking partnership, it will not be a surprise if his current form attracts the attention of Del Bosque.

The consistent, speedy way he is rising up the ladder makes Williams a bright prospect likely to be playing for a bigger club in the next few seasons.

An academy graduate of Los Leones, the club is already worried about losing him, hence tagging him with a buyout clause of €50 million, which is viewed as a ploy to ward off interest from several suitors.

Making his La Liga debut in December 2014 against CF Cordoba, Williams has been on the ascent as it took two months for him to score his first goal in the Uefa Europa League 2-2 round-of-32 draw with Torino.

n the process, he then became the first black player to score for the Basque club.

His seven La Liga goals this season include a brace in the 3-1 win over Real Betis last November, after he opened his account away at Deportivo La Coruna a month earlier.

Europa League qualification is realistic for Bilbao in the current campaign and Williams has weighed in with important goals besides that brace, as he was also involved in the 2-1 win over Espanyol with an early strike.

Another goal in the 2-0 upstaging of Levante last December and a strike in the 2-2 draw with Las Palmas opened his goal-scoring exploits for this year.

However, the most important of all his goals this campaign is the all-important strike that secured three points for Ernesto Valverde’s side away at Getafe on 30 January.

Athletic Bilbao are having a decent season after topping Group L in the Europa League to find passage into the round-of-32 with Williams contributing a brace in the 5-1 home mauling of FK Partizan.

This Thursday, Los Leones face Marseille in a Europa League last 32 and Williams could be instrumental in swatting aside the French giants past this hurdle.

Unfortunately for him, he didn’t make the trip to the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday to face Real Madrid after being red-carded at home to Villarreal the weekend beforehand. Having sat out this bout, Williams should be fresh and primed to make an impact against OM.

The big games are coming thick and fast for this wonderkid, and if he continues his meteoric rise, you can expect international recognition to be forthcoming sooner rather than later.

Will it come with Spain or Ghana?