Aston Villa still have a chance of signing Athletic Bilbao star Nico Williams next year, although they may have to convince him into a move.

That’s according to AS journalist Manu Sainz, who insists the player’s recent decision to sign a new contract with the Spanish club has not completely ruled out a move next year.

Williams is one of the rising stars of European football and had found himself developing a growing list of suitors as his previous contract was set to expire next summer.

That had several clubs all eyeing a move, including Aston Villa, who have had him on their radar since Unai Emery arrived at the club and have tried to sign him in the previous two windows, even sending Emery to Spain to discuss a deal with the player last summer.

A new contract had seemingly ended their interest for the time being, although it was made clear that the deal hadn’t completely ruled out a potential move to Aston Villa in the future.

Sainz continues that thread today, although he does admit those in charge at Villa Park may have extra work to do if they continue their pursuit.

“I still believe that he can leave this year,” he said.

“I receive information, supposedly from Nico’s surroundings, and they are transmitting that Nico is leaving. He’s going to continue where he is, that’s part of the plan but I have the feeling that if Madrid takes the step, then he’s more for Madrid than anything else.

“What he wants is to play for Madrid. In the case if Bilbao, he is happy at Athletic, that must be said. But if he leaves Bilbao, his first option is Madrid more than the Premier League or more than Barcelona.

“Barcelona have been ruled out by this renewal operation, they don’t have the money. If an exit were to happen, he wants to play for Madrid over Manchester City or Liverpool or Manchester United, the four teams in England that love him.”