According to Brazilian news outlet Globo Esporte, there is just one simple reason behind Willian’s willingness and desire to stay at Chelsea this summer, Antonio Conte’s sacking. While Willian is also said to be enjoying the life, in general, in London (where he now also co-owns a restaurant), the main reason is apparently the managerial change at the club.
That certainly fits the narrative that built up towards the end of the season, culminating in Willian’s petulantly unprofessional erasing of Conte from the celebratory squad photo after winning the FA Cup, and continued through the summer in various interviews where he simply dismissed or laughed at anything having to do with the former boss.
At the same time however, speculation was also building that Willian would be leaving in a mutually beneficial move that would make him happy and generate a windfall of around £65-70m for Chelsea. Chelsea not sacking Conte until the second week of preseason probably didn’t help that situation, even if everybody expected Sarri to take over eventually.
Things appeared to be coming to a head yesterday, as the media picked up on Willian’s continuing absence from Chelsea training. He had been expected back by Monday at the latest, and he was still stuck in Brazil.
As it turned out, it was an issue with his passport that delayed him, and he reportedly kept in contact with Chelsea in the meantime, keeping them apprised of the situation. Sure enough, as of a few hours ago, Willian was spotted at Sao Paulo’s GRU Airport by a pair of Corinthians fans (where Willian spent his youth and made his pro debut), presumably ready to fly back to London as predicted by the less sensational parts of yesterday’s news coverage.
So all is well that ends well. Willian’s set to re-join the squad, and we can progress with business as usual. The time for upgrades or drastic changes to the squad has probably passed for this summer.