For the last few months, all of the talk in Bilbao has revolved around Kepa Arrizabalaga’s expiring contract. The keeper has been in negotiations to renew his deal for a while now with neither side able to come to an agreement on wages. On Saturday, Iñaki Williams gave an exclusive interview with Ainara San Cristóbal of Mundo Deportivo and said that these types of things are just a part of football and that he is trying to convince his teammate to stay with Athletic Club.
“We all know how football is; there are two sides that have to come to an agreement. I know that Kepa is calm, I talk with him a lot. I’m trying to convince him to stay. He is working hard, he knows that he has this year left and we are all calm about it. I hope he continues because he is the great hope we have moving forward. He is a great goalkeeper. I have been in the same situation. In the end you have to be calm, focused, and know what you want to fight for. He is at an incredible level and no one is going to just discover Kepa now. He’s here. He has to be calm, focused, and try to have good talks about it.”
Iñaki was also asked about the fact that clubs like Borussia Dortmund were interested in signing him over the summer, something that he once again says does not think about. The 23-year-old says he is very happy at Athletic and does not want to leave the club. He loves playing with his friends and says it is a joy to be a part of Athletic Club.
“I am relaxed. I have always said that I am where I want to be. I’m very happy here and have no intention of leaving. The truth is that those thoughts do not even go through my head. We all know that the money being paid elsewhere is huge, but we have to be aware that if you are happy in a place, with the confidence and joy of your teammates, then that has to be important as well. You need to be where you are comfortable and happy. As I have said, I am committed to the club. I want people to know that I am where I want to be and that I do not want to move. I am very comfortable and happy here. I have more than teammates, I have friends here. It is a joy to come here and train and enjoy being with my friends.”
The winger went on to say that he feels valued and loved by the fans which is a big deal to him. He could not imagine leaving the Athletic fans. He also said that he is calm about the eventual return of Yeray because the defender has seemed very strong. The two talk quite a bit and everyone is ready for Yeray to be back on the pitch.
“I feel valued and loved, I feel very good and very happy because of how the fans value me. They always stop me on the street asking for photos or signatures…I feel very loved and it would hurt me to leave all of these fans who are supporting and encouraging me. Yeray is my friend and we always talk. I am very calm about him because I see him very calm and with incredible strength. He conveys that strength to us and we are looking forward to him rejoining the group to make us stronger. What he did last year as incredible.”
In closing, Iñaki was asked about Athletic signing Ander Capa on the final day of the transfer window. He admitted that it came as a surprise, but he believes the signing will make the team stronger. The right side of the field will have even more quality and Iñaki is looking forward to exploited defenses with Capa.
“Well, I think it caught us a little by surprise. I didn’t know anything about it, but it is a great signing. He has had two great seasons and it playing at a high level. He will bring competition to the right side and make us even stronger. This is good news for Athletic. We have a lot of potential on the right and can be explosive. Physically, we are players with pace that will get forward a lot and will try to exploit that right side as much as we can.”
Athletic Club will be back in action on Sunday when they will host newly promoted Girona at the San Mamés. After struggling with lower back pain all week, Aritz Aduriz may not feature this weekend, meaning Iñaki Williams could once again lead the attack. The 23-year-old has struggled to finish chances this year but is still playing at a very high level. Sunday’s game will be huge moving forward because Athletic could cement their place near the top of the table with another vital three points.