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Athletic star Williams says Valverde would succeed at Barcelona

Athletic Bilbao forward Inaki Williams says Ernesto Valverde would be a shrewd choice as the new Barcelona coach, but hopes he will stay at San Mames.

The 53-year-old is one of the favourites to replace Luis Enrique when he leaves Camp Nou at the end of the season, with Barca even mentioning him as a possible successor on their official website, along with current assistant coach Juan Carlos Unzue.

Valverde has achieved European qualification three times in a row during his second spell at Athletic, while he led them to their first major trophy in 31 years when they beat Barca 5-1 on aggregate in the 2015 Supercopa de Espana.

Williams believes there are few candidates better suited to LaLiga's champions but remains hopeful that he will reject any approach.

"He would be a good coach but we want him to stay at Athletic," he told Cadena SER when asked about Barca's interest. "He's a great boss, one of the best.

"He wouldn't be a bad coach for Barca. It's true that we're very happy with him and hopefully he stays with us.

"He's done great work, he's made history, he's the coach with the most games at the club. He's got us into Europe in every season.

"He has the last word and, whatever it is, I'll be happy for him."