The much-lauded transfer of Willian from Chelsea to Arsenal in the summer has been a rather unpleasant and unexpected experience. Similar to buying an expensive coat only to find it’s missing a sleeve or reaching the end of a much-hyped book only to discover the end chapter is missing.
Willian seemed an ideal transfer for Arsenal, a gifted Brazilian striker who could influence the outcome of matches and score his share of Premier League goals. His transfer in the summer was greeted with enthusiasm by the majority of fans because he had genuine quality, desire, and appetite and was viewed as a serial winner and a shrewd purchase.
Fast forward to the present and Willian looks completely lost and out of form. If Arsenal had seen him play like this in a Chelsea shirt, he would never have arrived at the Emirates. The transformation of such a highly regarded player is astonishing.
He is mediocre at free-kicks and corners, loses the ball far too often, and spends the majority of his shift tracking back in his half. He’s certainly changed my ridiculous preconceived notion that all Brazilian footballers can take a set-piece because to date, the results have been less than impressive. I was hoping that Willian’s transfer would rid me of my deep-seated fears regarding Arsenal’s recent array of substandard Chelsea purchases, but he’s managed to increase those fears tenfold.
Now, it appears that Arsenal and Willian may part company as early as January with Real Betis rumoured to be interested in the former Chelsea man’s services (El Gol Digital via The Hard Tackle). It would be a welcome end to a deal, that at present, looks to have been awful for both parties.
It’s somewhat strange because Willian was said to be happy with life in London and viewed the transfer to Arsenal as perfect for his family but now it appears that’s no longer the case. We can only surmise the reasons why, but it’s completely obvious that the Brazilian is not performing to the level that he did at Stamford Bridge the last two seasons.
The situation has certainly become further inflamed with recent footage of Willian on the training pitch playing to his full potential and some fans are feeling irritated, disappointed, and short-changed.
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) December 12, 2020
One asked: “Why can’t he do that in a proper match?”
Another demanded: “Will someone ship this loser out!”
Another fan observed: “A complete waste of money that takes up space in an average team!”
If he does leave for Real Betis, then at least it allows Arteta to focus on the younger Pepe and develop the club’s most expensive talent. The rotation of both players has proved a fruitless exercise and instead of creating a culture of fierce competition, it’s just facilitated two inconsistently average and unsatisfactory performances.
Under the circumstances, I feel this was a deal destined to fail and one that was done in the dying stages of the Raul Sanllehi/Kia Joorabchian mutual love-in at the club. We won’t really know how and why an agent was allowed so much free reign at a club such as Arsenal or how it benefited Sanllehi, but it’s safe to conclude that it did.
Round pegs in square holes have been part of Arsenal’s recruitment problems for years with Wenger missing out on various key targets because of the objections higher up in the food chain. Unai Emery was given players he neither wanted nor had chosen, caught in the crossfire between Mislintat and Sanllehi and Arteta now has the task of convincing Edu to spend Kroenke cash.
We have younger, more ambitious players such as Maitland-Niles, Nelson, and Pepe who can play out wide, let’s give them a chance for a change.