The much talked about transfer of Chelsea’s Willian is creeping to its conclusion and barring disasters, it should be announced shortly, but the move hasn’t gone down well with some Arsenal supporters.
“Not another Chelsea has been!” – One grumbled.
“A complete lack of ambition, as long as they are cheap, they’ll do.” – Said another.
“Any Chelsea player looking for a retirement plan just needs to pick up the phone and talk to Raul.” – Observed an equally disappointed fan.
Yet, just by way of balance, some appear happy that Willian has chosen to jump from Lampard’s in-between Chelsea to Arteta’s under construction Arsenal.
“He’s a winner, bags of experience which will help our kids.” – Said one.
“Looks like a good deal, no transfer fee, and still a decent player.” – Said another.
“Lampard must be livid! Willian was one of his best players last season.” – Added a pro-Willian Gooner
The thing is, I understand the reservations from some fans about Chelsea players, having purchased a distinctly average Petr Cech, who was way past his best and then, by adding David Luiz in a desperate-looking last-minute spend fest. Luiz has had dramatic highs and shocking lows and opinions on him vary depending on which game you choose to analyse.
Willian, however, brings something that is attractive to Arteta, a known ball player and attacking winger or midfielder, who is still achieving at the top level. It’s clear Chelsea didn’t want him to leave but they were reluctant to offer him the security he wanted. It’s rumoured that there was was a last-minute attempt from Chelsea to secure his services with an improved deal, but Willian had decided that it was too little too late and asked his agent to pursue the Arsenal offer.
Willian has vital experience at the highest level in football as an international for Brazil, in European competitions, and at Chelsea the Premier League. On a free transfer, it’s a no brainer for any club and it will be interesting to see where Arteta wants him to play and how he fits into the lineup with any further additions plus the academy prospects.
It’s as plain as the nose on your face that Willock and AMN aren’t consistent or experienced enough at present, so three years in the company of Willian won’t hurt. The only player from the academy, that it’s felt will gain a fairly frequent slot in the side, is Emile Rowe Smith, who is seen by a great many at the club as Ozil’s successor for the number 10 shirt.
Willian has the full range of Brazilian artistry with measured passes, beautifully weighed long balls, cute one-twos, and a cannon of a shot. He is a real threat going forward and will link well with the strikers, but he also works incredibly hard for the team, contributing at both ends. He’s no defender of course, but Arteta won’t have to drum defence into him and Willian will likely backtrack to limit space more than dive-in feet first.
He is an intelligent midfielder with great awareness and vision and if Aubameyang puts pen to paper and Lacazette avoids any involvement in a swap deal, Willian will provide the chances. The thought of Willian in the middle, with Pepe, added to the front three, with Bellerin, Saka, and Tierney, who are all capable of belting forward, it seems like an astute move.
Some are rightly preoccupied with Arsenal’s brittle defence, which ultimately, cost Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery their jobs. Arteta will have the benefit of recruit William Saliba for the new campaign. He also has Pablo Mari on his way back from injury but he will attempt to secure at least one more CB if a deal can be done reasonably cheaply. A step forward?
Arsenal’s other problem for the last two seasons was their inability to provide the type of service that would benefit their star strikers. It was clear before the arrival of Pepe that there were issues with both Lacazette and Aubameyang left to their own devices to steal goals. That would be different, with Willian pulling the strings with attacking wing-backs to call on.
Saka, in his second season, will have the benefit of Willian, who can thread a ball through a sea of opposition shirts for any player willing to run. Willian is also pretty cute with any dead ball situation and can get the side goals from free kicks or penalties. His balance is also top-notch and he can hold a ball whilst assessing his options with a quick-thinking football brain.
I was initially sceptical like others when I first heard the move might go ahead but now, I’m warming to the idea but I think it will only make sense once Arsenal’s transfer business is complete. I don’t believe he will be the only addition and I would be disappointed and shocked if that were the case.
Willian’s arrival does raise questions over the extended loan of Dani Ceballos and the reported loan/purchase of Philippe Coutinho. How are the three going to fit? Two possibly, three no chance!
The fact that Willian has agreed to the move to Arsenal, in principle, has probably ended interest in one of the other two and if I were a betting man, I’d say Ceballos already has the upper hand. Stranger things have happened I guess, we’ll soon find out.
Arsenal fans now await the signing of Willian and his appearance in the famous red and white shirt accompanied by the usual stage-managed publicity shots. Only Willian can convince the supporters that he was the right choice but I’m becoming strangely excited at the prospect. What’s happening to me?