Player Profiles: Willian
At 29 years of age, Willian is in his prime and has established himself at Chelsea since his arrival in 2013.
The Brazilian winger has surprisingly received serious interest from European giants Barcelona as well as fellow Premier League club Manchester United. According to multiple media outlets, the Blaugrana have bid £53 million for Willian’s services which will certainly prick up the ears of Chelsea’s hierarchy, considering the substantial figure offered and how long Willian will continue to perform at Stamford Bridge.
Willian Borges da Silva came through the Corinthians youth system and after two seasons with the senior team, he followed the path of multiple Brazilians by signing for Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk. He helped his club win a domestic double in his first season and established himself as a first team regular for the 5 seasons to come. Willian continued to improve at the Donbass Arena domestically and scored frequently in the Champions League, gradually putting him on the radar of Europe’s elite. 4 league titles and 3 Ukrainian cups later, Willian moved to Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013.
However, due to financial difficulty, Anzhi were forced to transfer list their entire squad including Willian. His short stay in Russia was ended when Chelsea beat London rivals Tottenham Hotspur to his signature in a £30 million swoop.
4 goals in the 2014/15 from the Brazilian international helped Chelsea win their fifth league title, adding yet more silverware to his trophy cabinet. Willian excelled with 10 goals in all competitions the following season and was the shining light in a disastrous title defence for the blues. He won both the Chelsea fans’ and players’ Player of the Year awards that season.
Willian has gone on to make over 200 appearances for Chelsea and contributing to important goals when he comes off the bench. He is viewed as a hardworking and agile midfielder, capable of playing on the wing or as a central attacking midfielder. He is also a free kick specialist as shown in the 2015/16 season that possesses creativity alongside a goal-scoring threat.
A move to Barcelona would be beneficial for Willian. At 29, opportunities in his career to move to bigger clubs will diminish and this may be his final chance to move to a club challenging for the Champions League. His stamina and agility will suit the play style of the Catalan Club, making it easier to adapt to Ernesto Valverde’s system. However, first team football won’t come easy for the former Donetsk winger due to the abundance of midfield talent that Valverde has at his disposal.
Although Messi, Suarez, Coutinho and Dembele would without doubt be first team, Willian would give Barcelona an option off the bench as well as allow the first team to be rotated after playing week in week out. Yet a fee of over £50 million (that could still rise) for a 29 year old that does not offer longevity, does ask questions over whether there are better options out there.
Willian is a talented winger that is a joy to watch when in full flow. A move to Barcelona may be his last chance of European glory and an acquisition for the Camp Nou to be excited about.