Among the many things that this season has proven is the fact that Inaki Williams has enormous potential, but it has also shown that the 21-year-old is a long way from fulfilling his capabilities. The precocious talent has struggled to find consistency in a campaign that has been hampered by injuries, and it has sometimes seemed as though he has spent more time trying to get back to full fitness than he has on the pitch.
Nonetheless, the Basque has impressed intermittently and shown glimpses of exactly what he can do. He has still managed to score 13 goals in all competitions and has provided his teammates with four assists, prompting Athletic Bilbao to act swiftly in tying down the attacker to a new five-year contract, which sees his release clause increased to €50m in order to fend off interest from the Premier League.
The highlight of Williams’ campaign was undoubtedly his goal-of-the-season contender against Espanyol, which saw him receive the ball on the turn and flick it over his opponent’s head, before firing a first-time volley into the top corner. This goal not only served to show the technical ability that the Spain Under-21 international has, but also that his game is not solely based on pace and direct running down the channels. These are certainly his strengths, and the man who could also represent Ghana or Liberia is fond of cutting inside to cause even more chaos for opposing defenders.
There is no doubting that Williams, with his air of unpredictability and lightening pace, would be a useful tool for Spain to have on the bench in France. Unfortunately, he gives the ball away a little bit too often at this early stage of his career and lacks an end product in certain situations, with only a 65-percent pass-completion rate during the past campaign. These are things that Vicente del Bosque is looking to avoid, and it’s probably one of the main reasons why he will not be in his squad this summer.
Born in Bilbao, Williams has only represented Spain’s Under-21 side, and that has only actually occurred four times since his breakthrough at the end of 2014-15. He got on the scoresheet in one of those games, a 5-0 thrashing of Georgia. Because of the fact that he has not been capped by La Roja’s seniors yet, the youngster could actually end up playing for Ghana, and reports suggest that this is a prospect he is warming to, in spite of statements made saying that he “feels Spanish”.
It’s possibly a little too early for Williams to be included in the Spain squad for an international tournament, but there is every chance that he will be part of the group of players named for the World Cup in 2018 if he decides to stick with Spain as a new generation look to stake their claim for regular berths in the senior side. More luck with injuries and consistently-strong performances are needed too, but with the ability that this 21-year-old has, there should be no worries about that.