Liverpool receive update in £43m pursuit of Sturridge potential replacement

Athletic Bilbao will look to head off supposed interest in Inaki Williams from Liverpool by offering their star man a new contract.

The Reds are said to weighing up whether to make a bid for the striker in the close season, but the Guardian’s assistant sports editor – Ed Aarons – took to his Twitter account to allege that Bilbao will try and ward Liverpool off by beginning talks over a new deal for Williams.

Williams’ agent – Felix Tainta – is said to be ready to enter negotiations over extending his client’s stay with the Basque club, and Bilbao will hope to increase the 22-year-old’s release clause fee, which currently stands at £43m, to make it much more difficult for interested parties to make decent offers for the forward.

Williams, who is comfortable playing on the wings and up front, spoke out back in April over reports that he was interested in completing a move to one of Liverpool, Serie A champions Juventus or DfB Pokal Cup winners Borussia Dortmund, and claimed that he was only concerned with his career at the San Mames Stadium.

Only two months prior to that, however, the Spain international had also hinted that he may be open to a switch to Anfield after he admitted to being “very flattered” by interest from the Reds – comments that would lead some Liverpool fans to believe that Williams is playing hard to get.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is actively pursuing a number of potential targets ahead of the 2017/18 season as he looks to significantly strengthen the options available to him across the park, but it is in attacking areas that the German will be most keen to bolster.

The Reds were one of the highest scoring Premier League teams last term, but Klopp will hope to relieve the pressure on the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane to produce the goods up top.

Chelsea starlet Dominic Solanke is already due to add to Klopp’s striking options after he agreed to a £3m move from the Premier League champions, but any possible attempt to lure Williams away could now be in jeopardy after these latest revelations.

Williams has bagged 24 goals and 15 assists in 11 appearances for Bilbao during his senior career with the club.