Opinion: Arsenal must not repeat past mistakes with potential Chelsea transfer raid

Willian Arsenal links just won’t go away.

Arsenal continue to be linked with a potential transfer swoop for Chelsea winger Willian, but must surely approach this deal with caution.

The latest from ESPN is that Willian wants to remain in the Premier League, which follows Le 10 Sport‘s report that Arsenal were among his admirers as he turned down a new contract at Stamford Bridge.

The Brazilian wide-man has undoubtedly been a fine performer for the Blues down the years, and we would certainly have welcomed him at Arsenal at his peak.

Still, it’s too often been the case in recent times that we’ve signed rejects from our rivals and lived to regret it.

Most recently, we signed David Luiz from Chelsea last summer in a rather desperate deadline day move, and while he’s shown a lot of improvement since Mikel Arteta replaced Unai Emery, you have to question if it was really worth it, and if spending that bit more on a player in his prime might have been a far better solution.

Similarly, we ended up with Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United as part of the Alexis Sanchez deal. You could argue we did well to get a proven international player out of that deal as Sanchez had been so close to the end of his contract with us, but the Armenian totally flopped in north London, as his form in Manchester might have warned us he would.

Even the popular Danny Welbeck wasn’t really the smartest signing after he also failed to establish himself at Man Utd. Injuries didn’t help his cause at Arsenal, but even before that his scoring record showed he wasn’t really cut out for a top four club.

Is Willian really so different from any of these? He turns 32 later this year, he’s never hit double figures for goals in the Premier League, always looking just that little bit short of being truly world class. Of course, he’ll be available on a free transfer as his contract expires this summer, but we’d surely only get a year or two out of him at most, in which time he might block the progress of some of our hugely promising youngsters.

That said, it would not be quite fair to call Willian a Chelsea reject in quite the same way, with the 31-year-old remaining a key part of Frank Lampard’s first-team plans this season, while UOL state that CFC have at least tried offering him a new contract.

Ex-Blue Alan Hudson also recently warned the club about losing Willian, telling CaughtOffside: “Willian has been Chelsea’s best and most consistent player. Turning defence into attack brilliantly, with such pace. They would be foolish to let him go. He’s not only a great player but a player who young players can learn off day in and day out.

“You can’t beat such experience from a player with such great ability and one who has been a fantastic servant. I would keep him, for where do you find another Willian?”

Still, this seems based more on what Willian has done for Chelsea in an admittedly fine career, rather than being a realistic vision of what he could offer any team in the next year or two.

If we do end up swooping for Willian, we will of course welcome him and wish him the best with us, but it seems pretty clear at this point that we should learn lessons from previous mistakes and stay away from this one.

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  1. This articles theme of NOT taking older players at the start of their age led decline is pure common sense. I do not see it happening at Arsenal, in general.
    Luiz was an exception, given the then, and still, parlous defensive chaos at our club going back several years. In fact, from being an historically sound defensive club up til a decade or do ago, we have, in that decade, become a defensively speaking, joke club among top level Prem clubs, but I digress.
    Once we restart football and that is some way off yet – despite the so called ludicrous plan I read about in todays paper about intending to restart the PREM in beginning of MAY and conclude the season by July 12th, which is nonsensical fantasy and not worth taking seriously – money is going to be very tight all round and huge transfer fees are going to be hugely rare and player wages will take a large tumble, in consequence.

    There will be a huge move back to a more moral time, with greed being widely ostracised throughout society and esp so in football wages. To add to this factor, although there will be a greater than ever urge to attend football matches, sheer lack of spare money in society will weigh against this, UNTIL and UNLESS clubs vastly reduce ticket prices. The days of foolish fan worship of the most grotesquely overpaid players will be over my friends, mark my words! There will be a backlash against such players and against such shameless greed and THAT is so much for the better. The best thing that cpould happen for football morality returning is if Sky and BT Sport demand their money back and no longer fund club and player greed at the expense of hard pressed ordinary fans. Were it possible and up to me I would pay no player on earth more than £5000 pk, though I accept, of course, that will not happen.

    Just a great shame that it will have taken such a massive world wide pandemic to return at least a little of the morality so sadly lost in top level football.

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