Back in 2006, one Ashley Cole famously decided to make the 10km move from North to West. You see, he really wanted to stay at Arsenal, but they were only willing to break with existing club financial structures and policies for him to a certain extent, so he took the money at Chelsea instead — after regaining control of his car. (This worked out pretty well for us in the long run.)
Back in 2020, one Willian Borges da Silva somewhat less famously decided to make the 10km move from West to North. You see, he really wanted to stay at Chelsea, but we were only willing to break with existing club financial structures and policies for him to a certain extent, so he took the money at Arsenal instead. (This has not worked out too well for them so far...)
Willian’s reverse-Ashley Cole was already pretty much public knowledge, with Willian not at all shy about talking to Brazilian media about his situation throughout all of last year, but in a recent interview, he’s once again confirmed that he could just not do with a two-year extension at Chelsea, even if that was already an exception to the rule that was only broken once before (incidentally, for now once-again teammate, David Luiz). But David Luiz left two months after becoming the first over-30 player in the Abramovich Era to be granted a multi-year contract extension, so after that, Chelsea were even more unlikely to ever accede to Willian’s three-more-years demand at age 32.
“Look, I think some fans asked this question [about whether or not he wanted to stay at Chelsea]. But the majority understood because I didn’t leave the club with a fight, I left the doors open. Everyone knew the conditions, I really wanted to stay. We ended up not finding an agreement, I ended up asking for three years, Chelsea wanted to give two, and everyone knows this story. That’s why I ended up leaving.”
“It was difficult to make that decision, it wasn’t easy. Because, as you said, the rivalry between the two clubs is very big. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Chelsea for Arsenal. It was well thought out, a thoughtful decision, talking to my wife and even the agent many times.”
-Willian; Source: UOL via Sport Witness
Well, we can all probably relate, having to choose between two more years of making millions or three more years of making millions. These sorts of tough decisions dominate everyday life at WAGNH Towers for sure, as we swim in blogging cash Scrooge McDuck-style.
Amusingly, Willian’s time at Arsenal has been rather underwhelming, both on an individual- and on a team-performance level. The Gunners are mired in mid-table mediocrity, down to 11th at the time of this writing, and Willian himself is still looking for his first goal in an Arsenal shirt after 26 appearances. While he was never a prolific goalscorer at the Bridge, he still averaged 11 in all competitions over his last five seasons — in addition to doing all the things that made the team tick on and off the ball, but weren’t always reflected properly on statsheets.
We’d wish the Chelsea ... legend? ... all the best of luck in turning those struggles around, but as José Mourinho once said after Chelsea legend Frank Lampard went to
New York Manchester City, he’s the enemy now.