Willian is almost a Chelsea man.
On Sunday morning Chelsea Football Club posted the following statement on their website about the 25-year-old Brazilian international attacker:
“Chelsea Football Club can confirm an agreement has been reached with both Willian and his club Anzhi Makhachkala for the transfer of the Brazilian player. The transfer is subject to a work permit hearing on Wednesday.”
So, a pretty routine work permit hearing aside and Chelsea have a new $45 million winger at Stamford Bridge.
After sneaking behind Tottenham Hotspur to seal the deal, Chelsea rate the Brazilian wide-man highly. His showing last season against Chelsea for Shakthar Donetsk in the Champions League obviously made plenty of Chelsea’s hierarchy stand up and take notice.
To give him his full name, Willian Borges de Silva scored twice at Stamford Bridge on November 7 2012 as Donetsk went down 3-2 to Chelsea in the UCL Group stages.
Willian was a constant threat that evening, as his direct play out wide epitomized Donetsk’s attacking impetus.
But let’s just consider the wide options Chelsea already have.
Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin De Bruyne, Victor Moses, Andre Schurrle and even Juan Mata can operate on either flank and will compete with Willian for minutes. That’s an incredible list of attackers in José Mourinho’s squad and the Brazilian will do well to jump ahead of all of the names on that illustrious list.
Yet Willian is certainly a man for the big occasion, last season in the Champions League he had 10 shots, six were on target and he scored four times. Excellently economical.
But do Chelsea need him?
He is fast, direct and commits defenders before breezing past them. He reminds me of Tottenham winger Aaron Lennon, but he scores more goals and has a better end product than Lennon and Willian’s poise when getting to the byline and cutting it back is an extremely difficult skill to master. Having that kind of composure at the crucial moment is something that he will need to recreate on the biggest stages in European soccer with Chelsea.
So that’s Willian the player. What about Willian the person?
After watching reports in the UK about the Brazilian winger this weekend, I’d heard Willian described as the “ultimate mercenary” for his flirtation with several English clubs and his transfer policy in the past.
For a brief bit of history, Willian signed for Shakthar Donetsk who pay notoriously high wages in terms of other Eastern European teams. He then moved from there to Anzhi in January 2013, who up until recently had money to burn and were paying striker Samuel Eto’o in the region of $36 million a year.
Last Saturday reports had Willian moving to Liverpool, but then Spurs emerged as the favorites as pictures of the diminutive Brazilian at Tottenham’s training ground were leaked and he passed a medical. But while the deal was being sorted out, Chelsea nipped in and now Willian’s future lies at Stamford Bridge.
But he’s worth it. Willian is a difference maker, at the drop of a hat he can swivel, turn and accelerate away from a full back, get to the byline and provide a perfect cut back. That seems to be exactly what Chelsea need and already have from several players. Hazard is similar to that but with less pace, Willian on one wing and Hazard on the other would certainly compliment each other well. But don’t forget about Chelsea’s whole host of other wide attacking talents. How can they fit them all in? Regardless, Willian will get the chance to shine in the Premier League before the World Cup in his home nation of Brazil.
Joining countrymen David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar in West London, will Willian be Chelsea’s best Brazilian yet?