Club-record bid tabled by Aston Villa for Liverpool target as Unai Emery makes big statement

Latest Aston Villa transfer news as Unai Emery makes a big statement with a club-record bid for a fresh January target.

Aston Villa were reportedly willing to pay the £45 million release clause to make Athletic Bilbao sensation Nico Williams the club’s record signing, but the deal looks unlikely due to the player’s stance. Unai Emery, who has been very open about wanting to bring in a winger, was willing to splash plenty of his budget on the player – a real statement of intent.

Williams, who turned 20 last July, has been a key player for Bilbao this season, scoring three goals and contributing four assists in 18 appearances. Despite his young age, the forward has already played seven times for the Spanish national team at senior level. He has also been the subject of interest from the likes of Arsenal and Liverpool.

The Daily Mail reports Villa were “prepared to pay [the] £45 million release clause” with Emery eager to pick up the pace in the January window. The player himself, however, “didn’t want to leave the Basque country,” meaning a move is unlikely at this stage. If a deal were to be successful, it would eclipse the £34.6 million that Villa paid for Emi Buendia in 2021.

In response, the Lions are said to have turned their attention to Real Betis winger Luiz Henrique, who is 18 months older than Williams. The former Brazilian U20 international has netted just once this season in La Liga, but he has scored two goals and assisted two more in the UEFA Europa League. Both players are the same height – standing at 5ft 9in.

Liverpool, Arsenal and Aston Villa transfer target Nico Williams played for Spain at the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Another report from The Daily Mail claims Henrique has been monitored by other Premier League sides with Manchester United and Arsenal “sending scouts to watch” the 22-year-old. Betis signed Henrique for just £7.1 million last July but he could be sold by Manuel Pellegrini’s side for a large profit. As it stands, though, no bid has been tabled.