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From five offers to just two, Arsenal seem to closing in on the free transfer of Willian from Chelsea, but what will he bring to the side and does Mikel Arteta really want him or is this all more Kia Joorabchian games?
If you’ve been following reports of what sort of players Arsenal are looking to sign this summer, then you will know a few things:
- Arsenal are looking for a winger, midfielder, and central defender, at least.
- Arsenal need players to fit into Mikel Arteta’s 4-3-3 formation.
- Arsenal plan to go with a youthful team but want to add experience to support (and mentor) the kids.
- Arsenal have very little to spend on transfer fees.
Willian is a winger who mainly plays on the right, can also play on the left, and is even handy as an attacking midfielder. Plus, he’s available for ‘free,’ with the caveat that even free transfers aren’t actually free as the club just ends up loading part of the fee into wages and bonuses.
But for the purpose of this, he is without a fee.
Willian has also played in the Premier League for seven years with Chelsea, arriving in 2013 for £31.95m from Anzhi even though Tottenham thought they’d signed him. They were, you might remember, absolutely outraged at the whole thing which was hilarious.
Since he arrived in England to not sign for Tottenham, Willian has made 339 appearances for Chelsea, scoring 63 and assisting 62. Jose Mourinho bought him during his first spell at the club and, since then, the Brazilian has played under another four managers (Guus Hiddink, Antonio Conte, Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard), none of whom wanted to sell him and all of whom used him regularly.
Even Chelsea don’t want him to leave, but because their over-30 policy is far more strict than Arsenal’s (not that you’ll read much about that), they are only willing to offer him a two-year extension and he absolutely, positively, must have three.