Chelsea and Michael Emenalo have pulled a rabbit out of a hat. The media have been speculating on the arrival of Wayne Rooney at Stamford Bridge and possible alternatives. Chelsea have stolen the march on Spurs, completely under the radar, to secure the signature of the enigmatic Brazilian maestro Willian.
Willian arrives at Stamford Bridge full of promise but also with plenty of expectations after Chelsea have paid in the region of £30 million to get their man. Willian surprised everyone, including his then coach Mircea Lucescu, when he completed his €35 million move from Shakhtar Donetsk to Anzhi last winter. Lucescu was very critical of Willian for leaving Shakhtar and accused player of choosing money over his career.
“I tried talking him out of it. I feel his decision was rash. Willian is like a son to me. He came to Donetsk a little boy and he is leaving our family a man, a man capable of doing almost everything on the pitch.
“Instead of his dream of playing for a top English side, regularly competing in Champions League against Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid he chose money. I am saddened, but it’s his decision.”
Lecuscu’s comments explain why Willian picked Chelsea over Tottenham, not for money but for the lure of Champions League football. Indeed, it was Chelsea who were actively pursuing Willian last winter, but refused to meet Shakhtar’s valuation. Anzhi swooped in with an offer that triggered his release clause and a contract worth €2.5 million a year.
So what should Chelsea fans expect from Willian? Many of us will remember his performances against Chelsea last season. Willian is a magician on the ball, his footwork is mesmerising and his ability to dazzle an opponent with incredible skill is second to none. I am sure a few will notice a bit of Robinho in Willian. But unlike Robinho, Willian hasn’t had an easy route to the top. His experience in Ukraine will have toughened him up and Lucescu has instilled the value of hard work into him.
There are some aspects of Willian’s game that still need to be worked on. His finishing leaves a lot to be desired, in fact the final pass or cross isn’t always there either. He will have to add goals and assists to his repertoire of fancy tricks and flicks.
There are also question marks over where does Willian fit in the side, when you already have likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Juan Mata. What does it mean for the futures of Kevin De Bruyne, Andre Schürrle and Moses? Can we successfully incorporate all these players into our side?
What I do know is, Mourinho will love the variety of talent at his disposal. Chelsea’s midfield is easily up there with any of the top teams in Europe, like Bayern, Barcelona or even José’s former employers Real Madrid. What I also know is that Chelsea fans are going to love watching Willian. For those of us who believe that football should be entertaining, I think we just got ourselves a potential superstar.