Mario Melchiot has revealed that Chelsea has only allowed Willian to leave them and join Arsenal because the 31-year-old (32 on Sunday) has reached a certain age,
Willian is set to become the second player in successive seasons to swap Stamford Bridge for the Emirates.
The Brazilian has run down his contract with the Blues and he is on the verge of agreeing on a new three-year deal with Arsenal.
The Gunners will see off competition from the likes of Tottenham to sign a player that was arguably Chelsea’s best player on the restart of the Premier League.
He will be an important and experienced addition to Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal team, however, Melchiot reckons that he will not be such a miss for Chelsea because the Blues will have already decided that they can go forward without him.
The former Chelsea defender told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Arsenal, in my time, were the Invincibles – they had a great side and I think they still are a good team.
“Don’t get me wrong, they always produce some talented players.
“But when you look at Chelsea, they tried to hold onto a certain key thing now where players, when they get to a certain age, they always consider ‘do we really need this player?’
“I think with Willian, they made it clear. They negotiated a deal and it didn’t come the way Willian wanted it to.
“Arsenal were listening to that and tried to pinch him right before anything could happen.”
The winger will become a key member of Arteta’s team, but it remains unclear which position he will play for the club particularly because they had just spent so much money on Nicolas Pepe who plays on the right-wing.