Willian may have played fewer minutes last season than in any of his previous three seasons at Chelsea, but he also managed to be more clinical than he had ever been before — and not just in his time at Chelsea, but in his entire professional career. Willian’s 8 league goals and 12 goals in all competitions were both career highs, the latter beating the 11 he scored the season prior when he briefly turned into a free kick god and was named Chelsea’s Player of the Year.
It was certainly a year of extremes for the 28-year-old, who started the season with a new four-year contract in hand but lost his place in the starting lineup when he had to take bereavement leave following the passing of his mother and never quite regained it as Pedro rediscovered the form that used to make him Barcelona’s lucky charm. That said, if Cesc Fàbregas was Chelsea’s 12th man, Willian was our 13th, making an appearance in 32 straight games to finish the season but with only 14 starts.
It’s that record, which had seen Willian make an early appearance in the rumor mill, getting briefly linked with a move to Manchester United. But he’s roundly rejected any such suggestions and has set his sights on improving his record from last season, hoping to build on his hat-trick from the preseason friendly against Fulham that Chelsea won 8-2.
“I felt good. It was a friendly training game, but we did our job well. It was a good start. I felt a little bit tired but it’s normal after the first week of pre-season, you always feel better after more time, and now I am ready to do more work.”
“I say thank you to Michy who passed to me very well for the first two goals against Fulham. I felt in good touch and I hope more goals come for me this season. I will try to beat the number I scored last season.”
-Willian; source: Chelsea FC
With Eden Hazard set to miss the first few weeks of the season and Chelsea’s situation at center forward very much unsettled, Willian (and Pedro) will be relied on even more to bring some consistency and veteran leadership to the squad.