A regular in Chelsea starting lineups for several seasons, Willian has seen his minutes slowly diminish over the past 18 months, a trend that doesn’t look to be reversing anytime soon given Antonio Conte’s recent preference for just a two-man attacking line — with Eden Hazard supporting Álvaro Morata — which has relegated both Willian and Pedro to just supporting roles.
Reports in Brazil indicate that Willian is less than pleased with this predicament, and he might be looking to exit the club over his lack of playing time. Recent rumors have even linked him with a potential move to Barcelona (as a Philippe Coutinho fallback optoion), while the Manchester United option has been mooted since the summer.
Nevertheless, when Willian talks about his situation, he’s saying all the right and respectful things. We’d expect nothing more from The Man Who Saw The Light and has recently passed 200 appearances for the club.
“Every player desires to play, and I am no different. I want to play as many games as possible. But the decision [to play games] does not come from us, players. We have to respect the decision that comes from above, from the coach, who sometimes opts for a certain tactical formation or for other players as well. And not only respect the coach, but also the teammates who are on the pitch.”
“But I think that when I enter the field as a starter or as a substitute, I always look to do the best I can.”
-Willian; Source: ESPN Brasil
Because it is a World Cup year and players might be more inclined to move halfway through a season, January transfer rumors are expected to be a thing for Willian. But the 29-year-old has already cemented his place in the Brazilian national team and that doesn’t look to be under any serious threat even though the vast majority of his appearances at Chelsea are just from the substitutes bench.
Willian may still seek a way out of Chelsea a la Juan Mata to Manchester United four years ago — it’s been that long already!? — but at least for now, he will keep on being a model professional and a regular part of the rotation for Antonio Conte.