One of the things that has set Chelsea apart from other Premier League teams in recent years is the maintenance of a core group of Brazilian players. It used to be a somewhat general notion that Brazilian players couldn't succeed in England apart from a few exceptions due to the physicality of the league, but the Blues have certainly done their part in dismantling this myth.
At the moment, Chelsea have five Brazilian players within the first-team squad, including Lucas Piazon who had returned from his Reading loan early though he's not eligible to actually play for the Blues. The departure of midfielder Ramires, who had been with the club since 2010, to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning in the winter transfer window could have set the group back in numbers but the acquisition of striker Alexandre Pato through a loan deal maintained the quota.
One of our foremost Brazilian veterans, Willian, recently gave a long interview to Globo Esporte, touching on several issues, including his hopes of Chelsea picking up the buy-option on his long-time friend Pato's loan.
"We have a great relationship that has been built since our days in Brazil's youth national teams, he's a great friend of mine. He also doesn't know his current situation with the club, we don't know whether he will stay or leave."
"He wants to stay, a lot. I hope that this can be dealt with as quickly as possible. It would be great if he could stay, it certainly would be a great deal for us."
Pato's reported buyout clause of €12 million alone makes a strong case for his stay with the club. And while he hasn't lived up to his one-time promise as a wonderkid at AC Milan, he still offers enough utility and versatility to be a valuable back-up to Diego Costa as we move forward.
Next up, a few words on Kenedy (one of the few positives to come out of this season) and Oscar (whose stagnation and inconsistencies have resulted in a failure to fulfill the expectations of having a great season).
"Kenedy is a young boy who arrived that has a lot of potential and quality. [José] Mourinho gave him plenty of opportunities, even outside of his natural position, and he did well. He has everything to cement his place within the team."
"And Oscar, the season wasn't that good [for him] since he had some injury issues. It's hard because you end up losing a bit of confidence when you get hurt so often. But everyone here knows about his potential and his quality so I hope that next season not only him but all of us will come strong after the title."
And leading the charge will be new manager Antonio Conte.
"He's a great manager who got many titles in Italy. It's a great name for Chelsea. I hope he can be successful at the club. He will surely arrive to help us and I hope that we can help him back by winning many things with the club."
"I expect the next season to be one with plenty of victories; that we could maintain a good level and along with my colleagues reach glories here at Chelsea and in the Brazilian national team."
-Willian; Source: Globo Esporte
New season, new coach, and a new hope. Will Chelsea be the force awakened?