Why Nico Williams should be Arsenal's top transfer target

  • Arsenal should do more than show interest in Nico Williams. The club should make the Athletic Bilbao and Spain winger their top transfer target this summer.
Spain v Italy: Group B - UEFA EURO 2024
Spain v Italy: Group B - UEFA EURO 2024 / Image Photo Agency/GettyImages

Nico Williams was already on Arsenal's radar before he became one of the leading lights of Euro 2024. That's good because the Athletic Bilbao and Spain winger should be Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta's top target in this summer transfer window.

What Arteta and technical director Edu should see while they're keeping watch on Williams is the perfect wing partner for Bukayo Saka. The ideal complement to the star boy's impish trickery.

Williams is his own source of power, pace and a few party tricks. All from the left flank. That's just where Arsenal need another top-level disruptor.

The Gunners need Williams more than another striker. Kai Havertz has earned more time to try and make that role his own.

I'm backing Havertz to mature into the Robin van Persie-type Arsenal have missed since, well, RVP himself was wandering along the front. Before he wandered off to tell the story why he left in so many different ways.

Arsenal's Havertz plan can work, but there are contingencies if things go awry. Worthy fall-back options like Gabriel Jesus, who still has plenty to offer. Let's not forget about his talents.

Speaking of fond rememberances of things past, Gabriel Martinelli still has superstar potential, provided he can stay fit. If he can, morphing into a striker is the 23-year-old's best chance of taking his game up a level.

Moving up the levels is what Williams has been doing. It's why he's going to cost in the €50-60 million range, depending on which source you consult.

Whatever the actual fee comes to, there'll be no worries on that score. €50/60m is nothing to Arteta, who's never shy about flexing his spending muscle to further the eternal project.

Passive aggressive jabs at the darling of the managerial profession aside, signing Williams would be a major step toward completing Arteta's grand design. It'd give him the type of player he's done his best work coaching.

Saka and Martinelli were going to be rising stars even if Unai Emery stayed in town, but there's no doubt Arteta has been good for both. He's accelerated the progression of Arsenal's wide men the way he once did for Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling at Manchester City.

Williams could be the best winger Arteta gets the chance to shape. That's no slight to Saka, but Williams is more direct, yet he has the same sharp eye for goal and keen creative instincts.

All of those things helped Williams tear Italy a new one when Spain overcame the Azzurri 1-0 on 20 June.

Williams wasn't exactly a best-kept secret before this star turn, but it's fair to say now every viable suitor with cash on hip will want to test Athletic's resolve. To the surprise of nobody, Barcelona and Chelsea are already in the queue of interested parties, according to Pol Ballús of The Athletic.

Arsenal should beat both to the punch. Williams' exploits on and off the flanks would dovetail well with the varied movement of Havertz, both his darting into inside channels or dropping off the front.

Just as important, Williams keeping the pitch wide on the left would stretch teams laterally and leave more room for Jorginho, Declan Rice and Martin Odegaard to weave pretty and productive patterns through the middle of the pitch.

That's what Williams has done for Spain. It's also what Saka has tried, in vain, to do for England.

A Saka and Williams double act can expand the pitch and tactical possibilities in attacking areas enough for Arsenal to clear the last hurdle en route to a title.