Arsenal are reportedly in talks with Willian over a possible switch to north London this summer after the Brazil international rejected another offer from Chelsea, according to Jacob Steinberg of The Guardian.
Willian has moved a step closer to a seemingly inevitable Chelsea exit after turning down their latest offer of a new contract, escalating Arsenal’s desire to lure him to the Emirates Stadium before next season.
Brazilian winger Willian wants a three-year contract and Chelsea have so far only been willing to give the long-serving player a two-year extension which seems unacceptable to him.
Willian to Arsenal: What will he add to the team?
Willian has enjoyed a hugely successful career with Chelsea since arriving from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013.
The 31-year-old has scored 63 goals and provided 62 assists in 339 appearances during his seven years at the club.
Not many players in recent memory have quite polarized opinions as much as Willian has during his seven-year stay at Chelsea. After being snatched from the grasp of Tottenham Hotspur in 2013, Willian became an instant hit with the Chelsea supporters with his brand of fast dribbling and shooting prowess coupled with an enviable work ethic.
Willian went on to firmly establish his place in the starting line up and continuously kept the likes of Andre Schurrle, Victor Moses, Juan Mata, Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah, Juan Cuadrado, Bertrand Traore and Pedro at bay under former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
Former Chelsea player Frank Lampard’s appointment shifted prominence to Chelsea’s youngsters, and many sceptics were quick to point out that Willian would not fit into this young Chelsea set-up. But Eden Hazard’s departure to Real Madrid and the transfer ban meant Lampard had to make do with his current options, and Willian stayed put despite strong interest from Barcelona and the departure of his best friend David Luiz.
Lampard freed him of tactical restrictions and let him do what he does best: sprint up and down the right flank, with and without the ball. Willian, revitalized, went a step ahead and added the Hazard dimension to his game, taking more responsibility upon himself with the ball and repeatedly creating chances in the final third.
But with the addition of a plethora of attacking options ahead of next season along with the mounting demand of game time from the likes of Mason Mount and Callum Hudson-Odoi, coupled with his contractual situation, Chelsea look to be ready to sanction his exit.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are looking to increase the attacking depth and while Willian might not be guaranteed a starting spot in the line-up, he will get more games for the Gunners, with his versatility one of the key attributes, granting him to fill in for Pepe on the right or Aubameyang on the left.
His experience will also come in handy for the likes of the relatively new Pepe and youngsters like Bukayo Saka and Reiss Nelson as Arteta looks to infuse his young squad with more top-flight experience.
Kia Joorabchian, the Brazilian’s agent, has friendly ties with some members of the Arsenal hierarchy including head of football Raul Sanllehi and technical director Edu Gaspar. Hence, Arsenal will be hoping their relationship could play a part in compelling the Chelsea winger to move to Emirates.
Stats via Transfermarkt