Chelsea monitoring Athletic Club’s Nico Williams – sources

Chelsea are one of a number of clubs tracking Nico Williams but a summer bid for the Athletic Club winger depends on several circumstances, sources have told ESPN.

The 21-year-old agreed a new contract with the Spanish club last December which contains a release clause in the region of €50 million ($71m), a relatively low figure for such a promising talent, but the Bilbao-based club were at risk of losing him for nothing given his previous agreement ran out in June.

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However, the existence of that clause as well as Williams’ fine form this season — he has contributed six goals and 11 assists — has attracted interest from Chelsea, while sources in Spain confirmed Arsenal and Liverpool have both scouted the winger.

Chelsea’s priority is to sign a striker this summer with Napoli‘s Victor Osimhen and RB Leipzig‘s Benjamin Sesko among their leading targets, but their ability to compete in the market is likely to depend on player sales.

On Thursday, Chelsea reported a pre-tax loss of £90.1m ($117m) for the year to June 30 2023, which follows a £121.4m loss for the previous 12-month period.

Chelsea continue to privately insist they remain compliant with the Premier League‘s Profit and Sustainability rules as well as UEFA’s financial fair play regulations but their headroom to invest in the squad looks minimal.

Since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed their takeover in May 2022, the club have spent more than £1 billion on players although they have also recouped around £400m in sales during that time.

Any pursuit for Williams would likely come after a deal for a forward and Osimhen, long believed to be Chelsea’s preferred option, would be expensive.

A source has told ESPN that Osimhen has a release clause in his contract worth in the region of €130m and Paris Saint-Germain are also interested in the Nigeria forward.

Sesko would be a cheaper alternative given he has a reported €50m release clause in his deal with Leipzig which supposedly becomes active this summer. Brentford‘s Ivan Toney is another possible option but the west London club were demanding £80m for the 27-year-old in January.

Any move for Williams would cast fresh doubt over the futures of a number of Chelsea wingers including Raheem Sterling, Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke, although there is no indication at this stage that any of that trio will be made available at the end of the season.

Chelsea will likely have to sell a number of players this summer, however, and Conor Gallagher has been repeatedly linked with a move to Tottenham.