Full Details: How Edu Forced Arsenal to Sign This Flop Against Arteta’s Wish

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Edu and Mikel Arteta look on during Arsenal's Premier League clash with Everton

Arsenal’s move for Willian was in the works well over a year before he eventually joined the club last summer and technical director Edu reportedly recommended the forward to Mikel Arteta’s predecessor Unai Emery.

Willian brought an end to a trophy-laden seven-year spell with rivals Chelsea to complete a free transfer to Arsenal and the Brazilian started promisingly with a pair of assists in the side’s comprehensive 3-0 victory away to Fulham in the Premier League.

But the 32-year-old has since flattered to deceive and fallen some way short of expectations in north London while Arsenal’s impressive crop of young talent, including Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, have led the charge over a resurgent winter period.

Arteta vowed to ‘keep trying’ with Willian after a particularly lacklustre display in the Gunners’ FA Cup win over Newcastle but his comments did little to convince supporters their out-of-sorts attacker would soon come good. In fact, they had the opposite effect.

Arsenal chief Edu, like Arteta, has been vocal with his support and recently called for Willian to be given a ‘little bit of time’ to adapt. But this only added to a growing feeling of frustration among fans with regards to recruitment and club legend Ian Wright voiced his ‘disappointment’ at being told to remain patient.

According to The Athletic, Edu has a vested interest in Willian succeeding given he was behind the signing from the very beginning and identified the Brazil international as a potential target on two separate occasions before he got his man last August.

Edu initially recommended Willian to former manager Emery, shortly before the Spaniard’s dismissal, and then raised the possibility of a move once again when Arteta took over the reins from his fellow countryman just over a year ago.

The report claims Arteta was ’not convinced’ with Edu’s opinion that Willian would likely be a great addition at the Emirates, especially if they were able to land him for free.

Willian discussed his struggles for this first time in Arsenal’s official matchday programme last week and said the ‘support’ he had received from Arteta at such a difficult time had been invaluable.

‘It’s never easy changing club, especially after being somewhere for so long. I was at Chelsea for seven years before coming to Arsenal and then you have a new club, new people, a new philosophy,’ he said.

‘Things are different so I’m still adapting but I feel good, I have been learning a lot – a new footballing philosophy.

‘Everyone is great here. I know I can improve a lot, and of course my performances on the pitch can be a lot better.’ Asked why he’s so far been unable to produce his best form, Willian replied: ‘To be honest sometimes it can be difficult to explain.

‘The first game was great for me, against Fulham, I felt I had a good performance and gave two assists. And then, I don’t know.

‘I’m always trying to do my best, sometimes things don’t go the way you want. You have to say it’s a part of football and a part of life. Sometimes you have good moments, other times you have bad moments, you have to learn from that. ‘And right now, I know I’m far away from being at my best, but I’m determined to work hard and change this.’

On whether he had spoken to Arteta about his underwhelming start, Willian replied: ‘Of course we talk about lots of things together, and I know I have his support.

‘That’s great for me, and to have the support of the club, so what I can do is always work hard, give my best in training to try to improve myself. ‘This is the only way to get back to good performances.’

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