Iñaki Williams 22 Striker Athletic Bilbao Spain
If you were to solely watch Iñaki Williams on what Joey Barton calls “the old YouTube” we reckon you might think you were watching the best young player in the world. His highlights videos are highlightier than most you see. There’s the outrageous touch here and there, the lovely unselfish assist, the volleys and the power drives, all rounded out with that electric pace and playing style that makes it difficult to get the ball out of his control. Quite the player then? Nearly, he’s well on the way but nowhere near yet. We’ll explain more below.
2016 has been…
…noisy, time to really deliver on all that hype.
The thing about this young man is that when he’s on form he can look unplayable against all but the very best defenders. Push him wide and he’s happy taking you on and getting a cross in. Leave him central and he has the ability to score from the merest sight of goal. So where do the problems come in?
Well, it’s our old friend on the 100 - consistency. It’s not about producing a 10 out of 10 performance every week, that’s reserved for the super humans in Real and Barca’s first elevens. It’s about delivering a level that becomes your starting point every week. There are games in which it’s no exaggeration to say Williams offers very little. It’s fine to be able to turn a match in a single minute, but sometimes you actually have to do it. On top of that after playing the best football of his career last season the secret’s very much out and defenders are planning accordingly. To date this campaign has been tougher, 2 goals and 2 assists in 21 games at the time of writing, and he needs to find new ways to overcome a defender solely tasked with keeping him quiet.
He needs to work on the basics - he has the spectacular cracked, time to fine-tune the bread and butter aspects of playing as a forward in the modern game. He misses a lot of chances but that doesn’t worry us at all, it’s good to see a young player confident enough to take them on, but it’s about working within a system designed to stop his movement, and having the fight to go toe-to-toe with a back four on his own if needs be.
The hype is huge around this young man, pretty much every major team in European football tagged with an interest, particularly Liverpool. He signed a new contract in January and has recently restated his desire to stay in Bilbao for the foreseeable. However, the amount of transfer stories that mention the release cause of between €45m and €50m make us wonder if his agent isn’t making it known he’s getabtle in the future. Hmm. We’ll see.
So a huge talent but a very raw one. We think he may well polish himself into a diamond in time but he’s not quite where the hype train would have you believe at the moment. Enjoy the YouTube compilations for the minute and hope he’s putting the hard yards in that’ll make the difference longer-term.
C+ Last season very much a B, this very much a C so far, a fair mark for a player on a learning curve
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