According to multiple reports in Spain, most recently coming from AS following earlier reports from the likes of Marca, claim that Liverpool are seriously interested in Athletic Bilbao’s fast, versatile, 22-year-old attacker Inaki Williams but might have to trigger his €50M buyout to get him.
This has led to everyone in England assuming that a deal won’t get done. Because Athletic Bilbao, committed to only playing Basque players, have a limited pool of talent to draw from and without fail fight hard to hold on to their players. But late in the autumn of 2016, the rules changed.
In the past, players in Spain who sought to buy out their contracts—or at least the ones who didn’t have tens of millions lying around—had any funds they were given by the buying club to pay the clause treated as income taxable at the top-end 50% rate by the Spanish government.
It meant buying out a player from a Spanish club could cost as much as twice his stated clause, making them useless to any side looking to deal with a Spanish club that didn’t want to sell. That law, though, has changed. Now, players are not taxed on money given to them to pay for a buyout.
For Liverpool, this potentially simplifies the situation. In the past, Bilbao have stuck to their guns and refused to deal players for fees even significantly in excess of their buyout clauses. Here, Liverpool know the cost of Williams’ buyout is, in fact, now his buyout.
Not that €50M, or £42.5M at current exchange rates, is cheap. He’s young, though, and a rising star in the game, one with pace to spare and an ability to play anywhere across the front. If Liverpool do make it back to the Champions League, then, he’s just the sort of player the club need.
And Liverpool should, in theory, have the funds to get a deal done. Especially now that clubs in Spain can’t hold out if a suitor is willing to meet a player’s release clause.