Jack Stroudley takes a look at our latest signing – a man brought in to fill an Odoi-sized hole.
At the start of deadline day, the possibility of a signing looked unlikely. And as the day progressed, with all eyes on the potential Carvalho deal to Liverpool, the chances of a new recruit still looked slim. Despite all of this, in the final hours of transfer deadline day, Peter Rutzler delivered news that no one was really expecting: Neco Williams to Fulham. After assessing the limited number of rumours we’ve had throughout this window, it seems apt to now take a look at Fulham’s newest signing.
Neco’s fact fileEmbed from Getty Images
Williams is a 20-year-old right-back from Wrexham, who has spent his entire career at Liverpool after joining their youth academy in 2009. The Welsh full-back progressed through Liverpool’s youth ranks representing the Merseyside club at U18, U19 and U23 level, as well as in the UEFA Youth League.
His progression up the age brackets and continued development was rewarded with a debut over Arsenal in a Carabao Cup fixture back in 2019. The youngster gave a decent showing, resulting in a last-minute assist for Liverpool who went on to win the game via a penalty shootout. Due to this, he was included in the squad that won the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup, but was an unused substitute throughout the tournament.
Williams has had limited minutes while at the reds, but has featured for Wales relatively regularly, making his debut in September 2020 in a 1-0 win over Finland. During his 17 appearances for Wales, he has managed to score two goals, against Bulgaria and Belarus.
The breakdownEmbed from Getty Images
Despite having limited minutes in a Liverpool shirt, when called upon Williams has given a good account of himself. Most notably at home to FC Porto in the Champions League earlier this season, where he held his own against a tricky outfit.
The defender also played a full 90 minutes away to AC Milan in December, and has featured regularly during Liverpool’s run to the Carabao Cup final, including grabbing an assist during their 2-0 win away to Preston North End in the fourth round.
While playing for Wales, Williams has played in a variety of differing positions. His most natural role is at right-back (where he has played for the majority of his international career), however he was played at left-back against Italy in Euro 2020, as well as in fixtures against Czech Republic. He’s also been played further up the pitch at left midfield against the likes of Belarus and Belgium. That versatility gives Marco Silva another option to have in varying positions.
A good deal?Embed from Getty Images
Overall is Neco Williams a good deal? I’d say yes. I think it’s pretty evident we won’t see him stay at the club long term; the loan deal is without an option and the young defender signed a five-year deal back in 2020. Despite this, I think he is a quality player who can rotate and provide competition for Kenny Tete, in the wake of Denis Odoi’s departure.
With the club being able to make a significant fee back off of Odoi, while also loaning out Steven Sessegnon and Marlon Fossey this window, there was a gap in that right-back spot, which Neco Williams will be able to plug until the summer window.