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Why Chelsea should not give in to Willian's contract demands

With the economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 outbreak set to financially engulf the football world, the temptation to keep players o...


With the economic hardship caused by the Covid-19 outbreak set to financially engulf the football world, the temptation to keep players on the book rather than sign new ones will become stronger.

At Chelsea FC, first-team players like Pedro, Willan, Giroud and Caballero are set to be free agents when their contracts expire in the summer.

Willian recently revealed that it would be "difficult" for him to renew his contract at Chelsea, which is set to expire at the end of this season because he is demanding 3 more years while the club are only willing to offer him 2.

Frank Lampard has previously given high praise to his former teammate - calling him a "joy" to work with and an "outstanding example" for younger players - and is believed to be hoping that the Brazilian extends his contract because he sees him as a key part of his plans.

But why should Willian get 3 years? Yes, he occasionally has his outstanding moments on the pitch (like his brace away at Spurs this season). Yes, he provides experience for younger players and can aid the development of both Hudson-Odoi and Pulisic who are 19 and 21 respectively. Yes, he has been a loyal servant for nearly 7 seasons and has reportedly rejected several approaches from Barcelona in the last couple of years. But how will it be useful to keep him around, earning in excess of £100k-a-week, for 3 more years?

Throughout his time at Chelsea, he's been extremely inconsistent. As much as you have to respect the fact he always seems to turn into prime Ronaldinho whenever we face Spurs - the club who famously "bought his flight" (as the song goes) before he made a spontaneous post-medical switch from North to West London - he has never had a standout season or ever looked like one of the best wingers in the league.

He has certainly been good this season and has earned himself a starting place even without our countless injury crises - don't get me wrong - but he has been nothing special at all and it seems like he chooses whether he wants to play for the badge or not depending on the current manager.

Even if you think he's been a great player who is committed to this club under Frank Lampard, I hope you haven't forgotten his constant disputes with Antonio Conte only a couple of seasons ago which resulted in him covering the Italian's face with emojis in the FA Cup-winning group photo and blaming it on his daughter. Is that really the sort of behaviour you'd expect of someone who is fully loyal to the club, regardless of how the manager has treated them?

Maybe Willian can flourish when he gets the right opportunities and is deployed in his favourite right-wing role in an attacking system, but he doesn't appear to have the attitude to strive hard to regain his starting place if he gets dropped or tries to prove his manager wrong, for instance.

Additionally, to put this proposal of a 3-year contract into perspective, Chelsea offering David Luiz a 2-year-deal towards the end of last season was the first and only circumstance in which the club has broken their own over-30s contract policy of only offering 1 year at a time. Even John Terry, arguably our greatest ever player and most loyal servant, was only offered 1-year extensions once he reached 30 which he was happy to accept.

Former midfielder Michael Ballack, who turned down a 1-year extension offer because he wanted 2 more years, has since admitted that leaving Chelsea so soon because of this was the biggest regret of his whole career. Willian, who has stated several times that he loves living in England and London in particular, could well be about to make the same mistake that Ballack did.

As much as I might be upset that Willian is leaving after such a long stay, I'd much prefer to see that than see us offer him 3 more years. With the sheer arrogance that it must require for him to demand a 3-year-contract when legendary players of the past have been happy to accept just 1, it would be devastating to see us give in to his demands and let him walk all over us.

We can't let Willian become bigger than the club, especially when he's not exactly the best player we've ever had in our history. Even if he decides to go to our biggest rivals Spurs, as rumoured since he would prefer to stay in London, I'd still prefer that than watch him walk all over us and stay for 3 more years.

There's no way he can act like he's been treated unfairly by the club, and there's no way we should let him get away with it either.


Written by Oliver McCabe
Twitter: @OliverMcCabe_

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