Neco Williams' desire to leave Liverpool highlights his determination to succeed

21 June 2021 09:45

Had Neco Williams emerged at Liverpool at virtually any other time in their modern history, he would probably be a bona fide starter by now.

It's just rotten luck that he was narrowly beaten to the post by Trent Alexander-Arnold, whose stranglehold on the right-back spot is set to last for the majority of Williams' senior career.

But you can do me a favour if you think the Welshman, still just 20 and heading into the last 16 of a major tournament with his country, is going to let that get in the way of his rise to the top of the game.

Williams is blessed with a grounded realism about his prospects at Anfield. He's aware of his own exceptional talents (how couldn't he be?) but he also knows there isn't much Liverpool can do to get him into the team. All they can offer him is the chance to wait and see what happens, but realistically, only a serious injury to either Alexander-Arnold or Andy Robertson on the opposite flank will see him earn a sustained run in the side in the near future.

His emotional connection to the club may be the only reason he didn't push for an exit last summer. But now, reports from The Athletic suggest that he has made up his mind, and will get proceedings started when he returns from Euro 2020.

That can't have been an easy decision, especially for a player who has been on Liverpool's books since Under-9 level. But it speaks to the humble determination that has helped establish him as one of the most exciting young players on the continent, and will set him up for a big future wherever he ends up.

There's no doubt Williams feels a fierce loyalty to Liverpool, but he can't be blamed for prioritising his own development. The Reds aren't prepared to hold it against him either: it's claimed they will command just £10m for his signature if he does want to leave, which won't scare off the circling Leeds, Aston Villa, Burnley and Southampton.

The latter attempted to bring him in on loan back in January, but it's understood Liverpool don't want to sanction a loan deal for Williams this time. They would prefer to sell, like they did with Rhian Brewster last summer, so the player has the security to start afresh without the distraction of his parent club hanging over his head.

In the Brewster deal, of course, Liverpool included a modest buy-back clause to hedge their bets in case he realises his potential. The same could be done here, and may be the best course of action for Williams' development.

It's worth remembering that reports are at an early stage, and it's not outside the realms of possibility that Williams could remain at Anfield to provide cover. With their centre-back situation set to be far more settled next term, Jurgen Klopp may feel more comfortable rotating his starting full-backs, which could be good news for Williams and Kostas Tsimikas.

But whatever happens, the youngster's desire to leave in order to further his own career is a positive reflection on the strength of character that has got him this far at just 20 years old. It's no coincidence he is already an established Wales international, and has a Premier League winners' medal hung on his bedroom wall.

He hasn't let anything get in the way of his rise to the top, and he's not about to start now. If that means taking one step back to take two forward, Williams will embrace it with open arms.

Source: 90min