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Willian - A Divisive Figure or a Misunderstood Player?

For many years no player has split public opinion more between Chelsea fans than Willian. Certain fans are firm in their belief that he ...

For many years no player has split public opinion more between Chelsea fans than Willian. Certain fans are firm in their belief that he is an exceptional player who is very reliable, while others point to his stats in their argument about him being below par for several years, so let's examine how Willian's stay in West London has panned out.

Willian arrived in a controversial switch from Anzhi Makhachkala for a reported 35 million euros, but before then he had caught our attention when he featured for Shaktar against Chelsea. When he was signed he was placed to fit into Jose's counter-attacking set up using his strengths which were his quick change of direction and a burst of pace that's hard to keep up with. One of the major criticisms of Willian has to be his end product, but he wasn't signed to be a major contributor to goals or assists, he was signed to help transition from defence to attack in the blink of an eye. His goal contributions in his 6+ years in the league and European seasons at Chelsea have read (8,7,17,10,17,19,10*). Each season his min per goal involvement have read (317p g/a, 414p g/a,199p g/a, 153p g/a, 136p g/a,158p g/a, 195p g/a*).

Let's try to understand what suits the player. Firstly Willian wasn't a RW when he was signed, he predominantly played as a LW or no 10 and he even featured as a false 9 for Russian club Anzhi so one thing that must be a gauge in assessing him is remembering this is a guy who prefers to play on the other side to which he plays, and as we have seen with Callum and Pulisic the angles of receiving the ball and affecting the game are different and can make a good player look below par, but that has been Willian's fate for 6+ years, but that's not also an excuse for some of his frustrating performances. 

This season Willian has created 6 big chances in the premier league, his season's best is at 8 and we are only halfway through his season. Even his record goal involvement which stands at 13 is within reach to being broken considering he already has 8 with 18 premier league games to go. This has arguably been his most consistent in a Chelsea shirt and not the freak season where the team lost its rhythm. Willian will always be remembered as the guy who hated Tottenham. In truth, he has underperformed for some time but if you dig deep you would realise that the expectations from fans have put him in a bracket he doesn't belong. 

Willian was signed to be a guy who would be a star and nailed on starter for all these years. Poor recruitment has ensured he has incensed the angst of the fans and became a popular symbol for the clubs lack of direction and ambition.

Written by - @Emperor_s_r
Edit by - @KristenPulisic

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