Willian Arsenal links just won’t go away.
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.