Chelsea’s new signing, 25 year old attacking midfielder Willian, faces a difficult road to earn playing time at Stamford Bridge.
The Brazilian, who penned a five year deal with the West London club after completing his transfer from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for a fee of $40 million (£25.5m), is well aware of the competition he faces. The key, he claims, will be to earn “the trust of the manager and the fans.”
Thus far Blues manager Jose Mourinho has favored an attacking three of Eden Hazard, Oscar and Kevin De Bruyne but has also utilized the likes of Juan Mata, Ramires and Andre Schurrle. Willian, therefore, becomes the seventh man in Mourinho’s attacking scheme, meaning the competition for playing time in 2013-14 will be fierce.
From the sound of it, Willian appears to be taking a modest approach and keeping an open mind. “I know that I haven’t secured my spot here,” he told ‘Globo Esporte’. “I’ll do my best to achieve that place, while respecting the other players. I’ll train, play and do my best to get the trust of the manager and of the fans.”
Willian’s drive for playing time exceeds his desire to prove himself to the Chelsea faithful as he is not currently involved in the Brazilian National Team. For him, the need to be playing in next summer’s tournament is a source of extra motivation.
“There is no doubt English football is very big, with huge visibility,” he added. “I hope that helps me to be called up for the national team – but of course that depends on me.
“I’ll have to play and prove I deserve that spot. I first have to become a regular starter [with Chelsea], then play well and be called up [by Brazil]. This is my goal.”
Despite having yet to appear for the Blues, Willian remains fresh on the minds of supporters after he impressed for Shakhtar Donetsk during last year’s Champions League group stage matches against Chelsea. Willian’s slick skills and precise passes helped Shakhtar win 2-1 at home but were not enough to prevent the Ukrainian side from losing 3-2 in the away fixture. To his credit, Willian scored both goals in his club’s losing effort.
After the move to Anzhi in the January transfer window, William made 15 appearances for the Russian club before joining Chelsea. “Things just happened,” Willian said. “Chelsea came with an offer and everyone knows that I wanted to play for the club since I was at Shakhtar. It shook me but I didn’t think twice.”
Only time will tell if Willian develops reservations over the move. With the string of world-class attackers at Mourinho’s disposal, one thing is sure – it won’t come easy.