During the very last few hours of the transfer window, a story emerged that Manchester United were interested in Athletic Bilbao’s Iñaki Williams to bolster their attack and replace Romelu Lukaku.
Nothing really happened beyond that, and the story was quickly dismissed as just an unfounded rumour, but an interview on Wednesday morning with the Spain U21 international suggests there might have been something in it.
Speaking to Cadena Ser, the Bilbao forward, who recent signed a nine year contract extension keeping him in the Basque club until 2028, was asked about the possibility of moving to the Premier League.
He said: “Yeah, there were a couple of contacts and calls during the (Christmas) holidays, but in the end I told the club, who then started my whole renewal. They’ve always been my number one option”.
Asked about who had called him from Manchester United, he said: “I don’t want to say. I don’t want to compromise anyone”.
"No puedo contar quién me llamó del Manchester United, no me tires de la lengua @ManuCarreno"
"Mi opción número 1 siempre ha sido el Athletic. Me gustaría colgar las botas aquí"
"¿La Real? No, nunca me iría allí. Nunca, seguro, 100%" pic.twitter.com/m7Fv140sFk
— El Larguero (@ellarguero) September 11, 2019
Pushing for an answer, the radio presenter, Manu Carreño, asked if it was someone who was at the Old Trafford club at the time but isn’t anymore (heavily suggesting Ander Herrera), Williams replied, laughing: “No, I’m not going to say anything. Stop trying to make me talk too much”.
While these contacts were seemingly before the January transfer window (Williams uses the term “Navidades”, which is normally reserved for the Christmas holidays), it certainly backs up claims that United were interested and could still have been late in the summer transfer window.
After all, the calls could have been to see if he was interested in coming once the 2018-19 season was over, as clubs usually plan their transfer windows months in advance.
Either way, the player is now fully committed to Bilbao, going as far as saying he would like to ‘hang up his boots’ there if he could.
If that changes, clubs can activate his release clause, which stands at around €135m.