Tactical Insights

Chelsea balks at Nico Williams as Stockport wants ex-Barcelona wonderkid who scored vs Liverpool

Liverpool has just two games left under Jürgen Klopp. The coming days will be filled with nostalgia: that Barcelona comeback, lifting the Premier League title for the first time, and even those infamous celebrations after a 2-2 draw with West Brom. Nobody outside of Anfield really saw what the manager was building that day, but look where it has led.

There have been some low points too. A walking reminder of one of Klopp’s more testing seasons is currently being coveted by Stockport. But the manager will leave as one of the all-time greats of Liverpool Football Club.

The focus will soon turn to the future, with Arne Slot seemingly the one chosen to replace Klopp. He will arrive as ‘head coach’ rather than manager, with Michael Edwards and new sporting director Richard Hughes taking the lead on transfers — and all eyes will be on summer business.

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Nico Williams is one name who has been mentioned, and it seems both Chelsea and Aston Villa have gone off the Athletic Club forward. Here, Liverpool.com takes a scan around the Premier League and across the continent to see what’s going on at Liverpool’s rivals.

Chelsea backs away from Nico Williams demands

Chelsea and Aston Villa have both balked at the wage demands of Nico Williams. That’s according to 90MIN.

The younger brother of Iñaki Williams has been hotly touted for a transfer this summer, having forged his own reputation at the Basque club. Liverpool is one of the clubs to have been linked (Mirror), while TeamTalk claims Barcelona boss Xavi is ‘determined’ to bring him to the Nou Camp.

But it seems neither Chelsea nor Villa will be taking its interest any further. They have been ‘put off’ a deal by the finances, despite the fact that the contract Williams signed in January contains a relatively modest $54m (£43m/€50m) release clause.

That’s because the new deal also reportedly took Williams’ salary up to $215k (£172k/€200k) per week. The 21-year-old would expect an increase on this figure were he to make a move elsewhere.

Liverpool.com says: That apparent salary increase in January looks far more significant than the release clause that was inserted. It’s little wonder that Chelsea and Aston Villa have been put off by the prospect of having to improve such hefty personal terms.

Williams is an exciting talent, but even in the Premier League, it would be unusual to see a youngster paid so much. Plenty of Liverpool’s key performers are on a lower wage than that, so it goes without saying that the Reds will also surely drop any interest they might have had.

If the report is accurate, you wouldn’t be unduly surprised to see Williams follow the path of his brother. For a while, Iñaki was constantly linked with moves away, but nothing materialized, and he ultimately became an all-time great at Athletic.

Stockport wants to make Louie Barry deal permanent

Rewind the clock to January 2021. Liverpool’s defenders were dropping like flies, with Ozan Kabak and Ben Davies mere weeks away from arriving in panic deadline day deals.

Even so, the Reds still went into their FA Cup tie against Aston Villa as massive favorites, after a Covid outbreak had swept through the Midlands outfit’s squad. In an uncanny reversal of a previous EFL Cup meeting, where Liverpool had sent its senior squad to the Club World Cup, the two teams played out a massively mismatched encounter.

Aston Villa’s side didn’t have a single senior appearance to its name, but Louie Barry caused some buzz, having been on the books at Barcelona until quite recently. The seemingly inevitable happened when he inflicted some pain on Liverpool, cancelling out an early Sadio Mané goal to give Klopp a scare.

Liverpool went on to win 4-1, although it was still a season to forget in the end. As for Barry, the now-20-year-old has been sent out on a succession of loans.

The latest and most successful was to Stockport County, whom he helped to the League Two title. Now, per TeamTalk, the newly-promoted side is looking to make the deal permanent.

Liverpool.com says: This isn’t what Barry would have expected when he was a teenager at Barcelona, nor even when he was netting against Liverpool. But his loan at Stockport has certainly got him back on the right track.

It’s claimed Championship clubs are also monitoring his situation. Still, it looks as though it could be a circuitous journey back to the top for Barry, who for so long looked like being fast-tracked there.

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