Newcastle United signal clear transfer ambition with £46m challenge to European giants

Nico Williams wasn't a particularly household name before Euro 2024 got under way earlier this month. Now, you will be hard-pressed to find any clubs who haven't been alerted to the Spaniard, 21, after his stellar start in Germany.

Newcastle United are one of the big names who joined the queue for the Athletic Bilbao youngster before the tournament kicked off and before he picked up the Man of the Match award as Spain impressively beat Italy in their Group B clash on Thursday evening. The Magpies have grand ambitions of upgrading their wide attacking options this summer and Williams would be a warmly received addition at St James' Park.

The problem Newcastle face, despite their blindingly obvious ambition in the summer market, is being beaten by more established sides who have more cash to throw around and European football to offer to prospective signings next season.

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Williams has a €55m [£46.5m] release clause in his Athletic contract, hence the interest from the Magpies, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United - and hot transfer favourites Barcelona. 16-year-old Lamine Yamal, who has been terrorising defences on the opposite flank for Spain in recent days, has already publicly expressed his desire to be reunited with his national team counterpart at the Camp Nou next season.

Athletic insist Williams is happy at the Estadio de San Mamés, while the player himself backs up such claims. He will make no decision over his future until Spain's run at the Euros comes to an end.

A similarly ambitious play for Michael Olise has also been made by transfer chiefs on Tyneside. Newcastle have been granted permission to speak to the Crystal Palace winger, available for around £60m, but again face an uphill battle to win the fierce race for his signature given the quality of the suitors currently at the table.

Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Manchester United and Chelsea are the other interested parties named in recent weeks. All can offer some form of European football next term, while all four also have the financial firepower to present an attractive offer to Olise and his agent.

A move for Olise would represent a huge coup for Newcastle and despite the deal looking unlikely at this stage, just the fact they are in the mix for his signature shows the incredible ambition of the hierarchy - even after missing out on European football.

Newcastle are seeking to make shrewd moves in other areas of the pitch to allow for a big-money move in their attacking ranks. Lloyd Kelly's capture, on a free transfer, is a perfect example of that, while opting for James Trafford over a more experienced, more expensive goalkeeping option will also save crucial funds this summer.

As for Williams, his stock is likely to continue to rocket as Spain progress through the competition. Newcastle will no doubt have been hoping the La Liga youngster had quietly gone under the radar on the world stage this summer.