Iñaki Williams “I Don’t Care If Any Other Team Comes, I Want To Be Here”
Iñaki Williams once again demonstrated his commitment to Athletic on Monday by signing a new and improved contract. The 25-year-old has extended his deal with the Lions through 2028 and raised his release clause to €135 million. Williams appeared before the media later in the day at the Jose Iragorri press room at San Mamés and expressed his desire to be a role model for the young players coming through Lezama.
“When I arrived my goal was to make the first team and I’m lucky to be here. I only have words of thanks for this is a very good contract. I want to be a reference, a very important part of the club, and for the young players to see themselves reflected in me and feel proud that there are players who continue to believe in our particular philosophy and the essence of the club.”
When asked about interest from other clubs, Williams admitted that he has had several offers but prefers to stay at Athletic and finish his career as a legend at San Mamés. He referenced the magnitude of Aritz Aduriz and José Ángel Iribar and wants to follow in their footsteps.
“I had offers in December but it wasn’t the time and besides, I would never leave my teammates or friends alone. The negotiations began in December and went well. Aduriz recently made the decision to end his time in football and his life at Athletic. It’s something you dream about. I have shared the field with legends, players who have been at the club for a long time. This is the essence of the club, to arrive as a child and retire as a veteran. I travel with El Txopo and see how he’s loved, how he’s admired, and I would like the same thing to happen to me. I want to be a myth like El Txopo.”
Unlike his best friend Iker Muniain, Williams did include a release clause in his deal. He addressed that decision saying very clearly that he has no interest in joining any other club but also wanted to protect Athletic.
“I don’t care if any other club comes, I want to be here. Every player is different. Some do some things and others do it another way. We wanted to do it this way so that it’s beneficial for everyone. I would love to play with my brother one day at San Mamés, to take out the barge, and score goals.”
President Aitor Elizegi also attended the press conference and was full of praise for Iñaki Williams. Elizegi mentioned that even when the club was battling relegation the striker was only interested in staying at Athletic no matter what happened.
“In January, when we asked Iñaki for commitment when the club needed it, we weren’t clear about the horizon because of where the team was in the table. Instead of leaving in January he chose to stay. There was no doubt on his part. He wanted to prolong his stay. We worked calmly to reach and important and precise agreement that sets an example for the young players at the club. Luckily Williams has come through Lezama because signing someone as important as him in the market would be difficult. He’s a great player and could have chosen to join another team but has been clear about his commitment to Athletic.”
Williams is the third Athletic start to sign a new contract, following Yeray and Raúl García. “This is another great signing,” said Sporting Director Rafa Alkorta. “We don’t have much of a market and we have to make a great effort with our own players. Williams has always wanted to stay. His commitment is unquestionable. As a player, he is a key piece. We are pleased to have another important signing.” For Athletic, keeping the top players is always the biggest priority.
During the team’s training session at Lezama, Williams was greeted by support from his teammates and a round of applause. With a new contract in hand, along with bigger expectations, Iñaki Williams is preparing for the La Liga opener against Barcelona and a season in which he wants to explode as a goalscorer.