With many of Anzhi Makhachkala’s world-class players potentially up for grabs this summer as a result of their fire-sale, former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Willian has been linked with a move for Manchester City. One of the stars of the group stages in the Champions League last year, Willian played half a season last year with the Russian club and impressed again, leading to transfer reports, from the Express and others, linking him with a potential £35 million move to the Etihad Stadium over the summer transfer window.
Having already bought a number of high-profile players this summer, the biggest question about Willian’s potential transfer is not whether City can pull off the deal, but in terms of whether they actually need him. New manager Manuel Pellegrini is primed to start the 2013-14 Premier League season with a slew of world-class midfielders and attackers at his disposal, and perhaps he already has too many options to consider, so does he really want another player brought into the equation?
And the answer is all about whether Willian can provide something that City don’t already have.
Willian is primarily a left-sided attacker who can also play centrally in a No. 10 role, which is where he featured on several occasions for Shakhtar. When deployed centrally (as he was against Nordsjaelland), Willian is an attacking force to behold, roaming the field, scouring for attacking opportunities. The 25-year-old is quick and very talented with the ball at his feet—possessing a natural ability to beat defenders with either his strong dribbling skills or an effective passing game.
He finished the Champions League group stage last year with four goals and two assists, and has followed that up with a very impressive start to the 2013-14 Russian Premier League season. In just four games, Willian has created 16 goal-scoring chances—four times more than any other player at the club.
Out of the four goals Anzhi have scored, Willian has provided three of the assists, with the attacking midfielder also racking up an incredible 17 successful take-ons so far as well.
Willian is clearly a supremely talented player, but in light of Manchester City’s previous summer transfers, the Citizens simply don’t have a need for him at the moment. As Squawka’s Team Rankings shows below, their midfield and attacking line now boasts some of the most prolific goal-scorers and creators in the Premier League—and that’s without the introduction of Fernandinho, Jesus Navas or Alvaro Negredo.
Dzeko, Aguero, Negredo and Jovetic combined scored 64 league goals last season. Furthermore, Dzeko, Jovetic, Navas and Silva combined created close to 250 goal-scoring chances and provided 22 goals last season. Obviously those numbers wouldn’t be produced once played in the same team every week, but the point remains the same—Manchester City have more than enough attacking options to choose from.
Should they add Willian into the mix, the Citizens would only reduce the effectiveness of players like Silva, Navas and Toure, who would all struggle for playing time as a result. They would be adding another world-class attacker into the mix, but they would be doing it at the expense of several other world-class players—many of whom they have already paid good money for in the summer transfer window.