In the summer of 2013/14, Chelsea welcomed Jose ‘The Special One’ Mourinho for a second stint at the club. In that transfer window, Chelsea made a few remarkable signings like Andre Schurrle, Samuel Eto’o, and £30m winger Willian Borges da Silva from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala. It is a common misbelief that Willian was signed directly from Shakhtar Donetsk. Willian, in fact, had a small spell at the Russian club during the transition. Willian, turning 32 in August, has enjoyed a fairly successful stint – winning 2xPL, 1xEuropa, 1xFA, 1xEFL trophies in past 6+ years at Chelsea. He also won Chelsea POTY in a disastrous 2015/16 campaign.
Willian has played under several managers at Chelsea and an interesting stat to his credit is that Willian has raked up 30+ PL appearances every season, barring his debut season. An impeccable stat! Willian, however, has divided fan base – especially in the last 2-3 seasons and the reason for debate and division has been his goals & assist stat vs his work-rate and experience factor. Under Mourinho, who expects his wingers to perform defensive duties and high work rate, Willian excelled well. He also developed a good relationship with Jose which shall be talked about in the latter part of the article. However, after the departure of Diego Costa, Chelsea had several spells of a goal drought. Wingers and midfielders needed to contribute more to that. Eden Hazard was under immense pressure and no one else stepped up. With Salah scoring goals at Liverpool and KDB providing assists at City, Chelsea fans questioned why were these players ever sold – and that too at the cost of Willian?! Willian has 329 appearances for Chelsea with mere 118 goal contributions (59G+59A), at 180’/contribution. Mind-boggling for an attacking player!
The Blues have a policy of offering 1-year extensions to players over the age of 30. There had been no change in that, even for the likes of legendary John Terry. Until last year. David Luiz was offered a 2-year extension but eventually moved to Arsenal due to disagreement with Frank over footballing reasons. Frank Lampard and Chelsea tried to open talks with Willian, as early as August 2019 and offered him a 2-year extension. To the surprise of club and manager, Willian has repeatedly turned down the offer expecting a 3-year extension. For a player on verge of turning 32, the offer is way off the limits.
Understanding from Chelsea’s perspective for the upcoming season, the club has secured the services of Pulisic, CHO, Ziyech. Going with transfer rumors in the market, we might end up signing either Boga, Sancho permanently, or Coutinho on a loan deal. With Mount and RLC capable of playing in attacking positions, it provides enough depth that Frank Lampard needs. In my honest opinion, the club does not need to break its policy (yet again) for a player like Willian. Moreover, with Frank’s style of play, we need more players who can convert half-chances in the final third – a quality that Willian lacks. Frank has never denied the value Willian brings to the squad but having said that a 2-year extension is a safe bet. Chelsea can secure services for next season and sell him if need be, at a reasonable value.
Now considering the Brazilian’s point of view, he has iterated his wish to stay in London many times. There were several rumors, over the last couple of transfer windows, of Barcelona wanting services of the player. We neither knew how concrete the offer was nor did we know the validity of the rumor. Currently, Liverpool, Spurs, and Arsenal are the clubs rumored to grab Willian on a free transfer. Mourinho, who is currently managing Spurs, and Willian having feelings of mutual admiration. However, a 3-year contract demand remains. He would preferably secure his future professionally and personally in London.
It would be amusing if Willian decides to move at White Hart Lane for a few reasons. Willian was reportedly going to sign for Spurs when he landed in London with Spurs having paid for the flight. Also, Willian has been a character to watch whenever he plays against Spurs. Always animated, running the extra mile for the ball, aggression, and few goals. A sight that no Chelsea fan can ever forget is when he mocked Spurs fan by showing golden Premier League champions badge after destroying their title hopes in 2015/16. And the ‘He hates Tottenham’ chant would be sung whenever he scores an own-goal against Chelsea – written in the stars, trust me!
Legendary is a word thrown too often. Willian has been a good servant to the club, not a legend though. He needs to be respected for whatever choice he makes. I am sure, Chelsea shall find a replacement and upgrade for Frank Lampard to compensate for last years’ transfer ban.
On an ending note, if Willian does join Spurs, remember what Cesc said on live television, “Football is f**kin’ unbelievable” and also remember this chant.
The sh**e from spurs, They bought his flight,
But Will-i-an, He saw the light,
He got the call from Abramovich, And off he went to Stamford Bridge,
And he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham, He hates Tottenham and he hates Tottenham…
Written by – Vashi
Twitter – @VashiCFC
Picture Edit – @Miz9Rahman