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Willian - Tribute: End of an era

Willian this week all but confirmed his summer departure from Stamford Bridge, speaking to the Brazilian press, Expediente Futebol, he ...



Willian this week all but confirmed his summer departure from Stamford Bridge, speaking to the Brazilian press, Expediente Futebol, he said: “Everyone knows that my contract ends now in a few months, so the renewal is really a difficult thing to happen.

Willian added: “I think it will be very difficult for me to renew because Chelsea offered me two years, I asked for three and it ended there, we didn’t talk anymore, we didn’t negotiate anymore.” Willian has been a great servant for the club since his summer arrival in 2013, and this season stepped up as one of the experienced members of the dressing room in our youthful squad.

However, the time feels right to move him on with his contract expiring in June. Chelsea has a hugely exciting crop of youth to play in that area, such as Pulisic and Hudson Odoi, who both had a season fragmented with injuries; moreover, with the addition of Hakim Ziyech to bolster our creativity and competition for places on the wings, it’s fair to say Chelsea fans won’t be anywhere near as distraught with Willian and Pedro leaving as we were, and still are, with Hazard’s departure. 

I was at Carrow Road when Willian netted his first Chelsea goal, a left-footed first-time thunderbolt- the ball ricocheted to him as Eto’o drove at the Norwich defence, a breathtaking finish, taking everyone by surprise and sending them away end into delirium. The goal signalled his quality and proved to be forgotten about belter, and one of many belters, he went on to score for Chelsea.


Willian played a hugely influential role in our 2014-15 title triumph under Mourinho, appearing in 36 of the clubs 38 league matches. The most important involvement was his 89th-minute winner against Everton, who on the day was proving resilient, a stubborn test, but Willian’s composed low strike from the edge of the box snuck in the corner to seal the points as Chelsea marched on to win the league 8 points ahead of second-placed Manchester City.


His best season for the Blues came the following year, a year which was apocalyptically abysmal for the club who finished the campaign in 10th; however, Willian that year carried hope and was the standout performer in the worst title defence in Premier League history. He awarded ‘Chelsea player of the year’ and ‘Fans Player of the year’ in recognition, finishing the season with 11 goals and 10 assists. 


6 of his 11 goals this year were free kicks, including his remarkable late winner against Dynamo Kyiv, a free-kick from 25 yards out to the left of the box- Chelsea was stagnant and struggling, just as we were all season, to create or even worry teams we should be steamrolling- on the brink of a Champions League group stage exit, Willian stepped up and curled it home. A goal which he mirrored again in 2019, against the same opposition, this time on the road to our Europa League victory four years later:


Under Conte in the 2016-17 title-winning season, Willian featured more as a rotational player, with Conte often favouring Pedro in his forward line alongside Hazard and Diego Costa in his 3-4-3 formation. On the 3rd of December Chelsea won their 8th consecutive league game on the bounce, a crucial 3-1 away victory at Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. 

Willian was introduced in the second half and scored the goal to the Blues 2-1 ahead. Costa, who bullied Otamendi all game, turned on the halfway line and threaded Willian in, who raced away, demonstrating his blistering pace, before scoring past Bravo in front of the delirious away end. 

Chelsea was tested by periods of City domination, but showed a ruthlessness with star attackers, Hazard, Costa, and Willian scoring, to match their steely resilience and tore Pep Guardiola's side to shreds in the closing 20 minutes. Chelsea went on to equal the then topflight record of 13 consecutive wins in a single season, the run which sealed title victory.

This season, in what is seems to be Willian’s last at the club, his best performance was (potentially for the club), came away at Spurs in which Willian netted a brace in a man of the match display against Mourinho’s Spurs. We won 2-0, and it was the experienced Willian who provided the moment of quality to put us 1-0 ahead. He retrieved the ball back from a short corner, Willian, who was slow to be closed down, done a rapid step over to shift the ball inside, before finessing it into the far corner to silent the Tottenham home fans. The second was a coolly finished penalty on the stroke of half time.


All in all, I think we can reflect on Willian’s Chelsea career as a success. Considering we paid £32 million for him, he played 329 games, scoring 59 goals, and assisting 52 (in all competitions). Moreover, he won 2 Premier Leagues, (2014-15, 2016-17), the 2017-18 FA Cup, the League Cup in the 2014-15 season and the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League. 

For those who do not rate Willian, may I remind you spent more on both Drinkwater (£35 million) and Bakayoko (£40 million), neither of whom have had a Chelsea career!



Written by: Bruno Brown 
Twitter: @Bruno14Brown


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