Athletic Bilbao secured the extension of Iñaki Williams’ contract with a mammoth nine-year deal this week. The longevity of the agreement, however, comes just short of Denilson’s Spanish record 10-year contract with Real Betis in 1998.
Born to Ghanaian immigrants, Iñaki Williams joined Athletic Bilbao’s Lezama academy aged 18. The attacker made his debut for the Basque club in late 2014, becoming the first black player to score for the club soon after. Hugely talented and blessed with pace, Athletic are tying down one of their own in typical fashion.
Since breaking into the first team Williams has displayed a unique blend of pace, agility, creativity and finishing ability. The spectacular run from his own half and goal against Sevilla in January will stick long with the San Mamés crowd. His work ethic and commitment makes the fan favourite an ideal candidate for legendary status, now he’s been duly rewarded.
An eye on the future
It is particularly pleasing to see such loyalty acknowledged in this modern-day era and he can be an inspiration for youngsters.
Williams would look to take the central striking position and mantle of icon once Aritz Aduriz retires at the end of the season. As evidenced by his dedication on and off the pitch, he is ready to lead the club further.
On the pitch, he has turned in consistently improving numbers for the team and despite testing periods in front of goal; his commitment was never in question. His steady improvement resulted in 13 goals and 4 assists in 38 league games, averaging 2 shots and 1.4 dribbles per game.
The nine-year deal not only sets his release clause at €135 million, keeping him away from suitors; it also continues Athletic’s unique tradition of only signing Basque natives to the club. In case Iñaki leaves the club he would be an expensive addition privileged to have played for this historic club.
Athletic are the fourth-most winners of the La Liga title and have 23 Copas del Rey, behind only Barcelona. Having secured one of Europe’s most-wanted talents both parties will focus on creating more history for the club.
In Iñaki Williams, Athletic have a lightning-quick attacker whose goals and flair can inspire the club and its fans. Tellingly, the deal eclipses any other signed over the summer and shows the club’s suave business acumen; as well as a commitment to keeping their own.
Los Leones kick off their 2019/2020 season against Barcelona this weekend, what a way for Iñaki to start off the next nine years.