Football News

Willian: I wanted to leave Arsenal only three months after joining

By Ben Green

Published: 11:16, 23 December 2021 | Updated: 13:23, 24 December 2021

It took Willian only three months to realise he wanted to leave Arsenal after joining from Chelsea in the summer of 2020, the Brazilian has revealed.

The 33-year-old crossed the Chelsea-Arsenal divide last year having spent seven trophy-laden years at Stamford Bridge, winning two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and the 2019 Europa League (at the expense of the Gunners in the final).

A crowd-pleaser in west London, the skilful Brazilian linked up with Mikel Arteta hoping to translate his form from one part of the capital to another, but things didn’t quite work out for Willian at the Emirates – where he made just 16 Premier League starts last season.

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The former Brazil international ultimately departed Arsenal in the summer just gone after mutually terminating his contract, rejoining boyhood club Corinthians, whom he represented during the early stages of his career before transferring to Shakhtar Donetsk in 2007.

Following his move back to Brazil, Willian described his experience at Arsenal as the “worst” of his professional career, now revealing he gave up “big money” to terminate his contract early and leave the club.

“I wasn’t happy, I wasn’t happy. That’s why I didn’t perform. I don’t want to go into the details,” Willian told Rio Ferdinand’s Vibe with Five podcast.

“When I arrived there I was happy, from the beginning I was motivated, I wanted to do well – new club, new mates, new project.

“But after three months, I said to my agent: ‘Please, I want to go’. I don’t want to speak bad about the club, because it is a big club. Arsenal has a big history.

“In football, big players played there before as well. But it didn’t work, it didn’t work. It was, of course, the most difficult time of my career.

“It was big money that I gave up. But sometimes money is not the most important thing in life. I think you need to be happy, get pleasure every day waking up in the morning to go to train. I wasn’t having that.

“So I said to myself, with my family, I cannot stay here, I am not happy here. I have to leave, find a way out, leave the club, because if I stay I am going to stay the same. For me, it’s unfair to stay in a place that you don’t want to stay just because of the money. For me, it was that.”

Willian: I wanted to stay at Chelsea

Willian went into further details about his desire to stay at Cobham, but Chelsea’s renowned ‘over-30s’ contract policy, in which they only offer short-term deals to players in their 30s ultimately led to the Brazilian departing the club as he wanted a longer renewal.

“It was difficult to decide, because I wanted to stay at Chelsea,” he replied when asked about his decision to join Arsenal.

“But I wanted a three-year contract and Chelsea say: ‘No we want to give you two years’. So it was like this – they say two, I say three, they say two, I say three.

“At the end of the season, I decided to join Arsenal and also because before we had conversations with Edu and Mikel [Arteta] as well. They showed me a good project, they showed me a lot of good stuff that they want to do. It was because of that.

“I say well, I want three years, Arsenal wants to give me three years, I want to stay in England, I want to stay in London, my family is happy in London, maybe it is a good opportunity to go there and continue what I am doing.”


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