Football Features

Where next for Willian if the Chelsea winger doesn’t sign a new contract?

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:11, 10 March 2020

Since signing for Chelsea in 2013, Willian has split opinion among Blues fans.

In 329 appearances for Chelsea, the Brazilian has scored 59 goals and recorded 51 assists which many believe isn’t good enough for an attacking player in the modern game.

Others favour Willian for stepping up during Chelsea’s torrid 2015/16 campaign when others struggled with a return of 11 goals and seven assists across all competitions, seeing him as an underappreciated star.

Willian has found himself in a run of form lately, scoring twice and recording an assist in his past two games.

The first goal came against Liverpool in a 2-0 FA Cup win before following that up with another strike and assist to help Chelsea beat Everton 4-0 in the Premier League.

However, not everything is positive for the Brazilian at Stamford Bridge. As the season goes on, Willian gets closer to the exit door, with his contract running out at the end of the season.

Chelsea’s usual policy for players over the age of 30 is to offer them one-year extensions at a time, and no longer. Willian, now 31, has confirmed he was offered a two-year deal by Chelsea but turned it down wanting an extra year.

“My negotiation, for now, is with Chelsea,” he told ESPN Brazil recently.

“There’s still nothing concrete from any team. And the situation with Chelsea is still that way. Chelsea offered me two, I demanded three, and it stopped there. There’s nothing much.”

Should no deal be agreed, Willian is currently living out his final months as a Chelsea player. But where could he move to in the summer?

Dream: Barcelona

Almost every transfer window for the past few seasons, Barcelona have tried to sign Willian. In the summer of 2018, they reportedly offered £50m for the Brazilian which Chelsea turned down, much to the surprise of those fans hoping to cash in.

At that time, Willian revealed he had spoken to his family about the potential of leaving, though he was happy to stay with Chelsea.

“The only real official offer I had came from Barcelona, last year, after the World Cup,” he said. “Barcelona indeed presented an offer to Chelsea but it was rejected.

“That was the only actual time I had to discuss something like this with my family, although we really love it here [London]. So there were several factors that helped us in staying.”

Then, Barcelona were trying to fill a gap on their left wing, vacated when Neymar joined PSG in 2017. Although they have since tried to fill that hole by attempting to re-sign Neymar himself, Willian has once again been linked with a move to Barcelona.

And should an offer materialise once more, why wouldn’t he take up the option? The Blaugrana are guaranteed Champions League football next season, and pretty much every year for that matter, something other clubs cannot guarantee.

It’s on this stage where he appears to thrive best, scoring 17 goals and recording nine assists in 63 games for Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk. With Quique Setien in charge, Willian’s arrival would allow for a 4-2-2-2 formation with Griezmann moving central to partner Luis Suarez, assuming the Uruguayan remains fit next season, while Lionel Messi is on the right.

And even if he isn’t chosen as a regular starter, the Brazilian will provide excellent experienced back-up for any younger player Barcelona opt to play on either wing.

Realistic: Arsenal

If Willian has his way, the Brazilian and family will stay in London next year regardless of whether or not he signs a new contract at Chelsea.

“We really like London, I’ve said this many times,” he told ESPN Brazil. “It’s a city that my family and I love to live in, we love the city.”

One London club to have been linked with Willian recently is Arsenal.

The Gunners do have strength in attack with the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe but there are some doubts surrounding the future of the Gabon international — especially if Arsenal again fail to qualify for the Champions League.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

But in Willian, they’d have a player who has the big-game experience who can still perform when required to, on either wing.

The links with Arsenal were heightened at the weekend after Willian’s wife posted a video on her Instagram story of the Brazilian’s family travelling to watch Chelsea’s win over Everton, saying their days “are numbered” before asking her children — dressed head to toe in red — whether they liked London.

Now, red could just be their favourite colour, but some fans have taken this as a hint of Willian’s possible move to Arsenal.

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Wildcard: Tottenham Hotspur

If Arsenal don’t tickle Willian’s fancy, he could still remain in London by finally joining Tottenham, seven years after his medical at White Hart Lane.

As every Tottenham and Chelsea fan knows, Willian was initially set to join the north London side in the summer of 2013 from Anzhi. A move was agreed in principle and Willian underwent medical but then the Brazilian got the call from Roman Abramovich — as Chelsea fans’ song goes.

In reality, Willian’s desire was always to join Chelsea and he only agreed to sign for Tottenham as a deal to Stamford Bridge appeared out of the equation — as the Brazilian himself revealed in 2018.

“You know my objective was to go to Chelsea, but since Chelsea don’t want, then we’re going to Tottenham. I said ‘oh, I’m going to sign with Tottenham, anyway, there’s no other option.’

“Then we’re going in the van, on the way, get to the training centre, Kia [Joorabchian], my agent, is already down there, waiting. I thought it was weird, he was already at the door.

“Then I got out of the van, he said, ‘we have problems’. I said ‘oh, what happened?’ Then he said ‘Chelsea made an offer’. I said, ‘So make do, I’ll get back in the van, you’ll make do and I’ll go to Chelsea, I will not sign with Tottenham’.”

Although he turned down Tottenham then, the club remain an interesting prospect for Willian now, especially with Jose Mourinho in charge.

The Brazilian joined Chelsea when Mourinho was starting his second tenure at Stamford Bridge and was a target for the Tottenham boss when he was in charge of Manchester United.

According to reports, he is once again interested in reuniting with Willian as Tottenham’s squad needs some strength in depth.

Squawka Suggests: Paris Saint-Germain

If staying in London is not a possibility for Willian and his family, he could make a short trip across the English Channel and join Paris Saint-Germain.

The Ligue 1 side have been interested in Willian before, as a potential replacement for Neymar whose future always appears uncertain with Barcelona lurking, and it appears to be no different this summer.

According to Calciomercato, Barcelona are eyeing Neymar, as well as Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, which would open up a space for Willian at PSG.

Although he is certainly not a suitable replacement for Neymar in quality, Willian would be an adequate star to fill the gap left by his compatriot of the left side of PSG’s attacking line.

In the 4-2-2-2 line-up, Willian would provide an experienced wing-partnership alongside Angel Di Maria, flanking Kylian Mbappe and Mauro Icardi or Edinson Cavani, should the Uruguayan stay.