A bit of Silly Season silliness to kick off your final week of football before the last international break of the calendar year — think of this as the warm-up for that fortnight of existential boredom punctuated by transfer rumors — as various reports in Spain this weekend have re-linked both Willian and David Luiz with Barcelona.
The latter is certainly the sillier of the two, with the floppy haired quarterback reportedly part of a 15-man shortlist (Mundo Deportivo via Mirror) as Barcelona look to strengthen their defense after injuries to Samuel Umtiti and Thomas Vermaelen. Umtiti has been out since September with a knee injury and while he’s avoided surgery, at least so far, plenty of concerns remain about it. Meanwhile, Vermaelen suffered the latest in his long line of injuries when he tore his hamstring two weeks ago. He’s not expected back until December, at the earliest. Should either those two issues persist, reinforcements would certainly make sense in January. Chelsea letting David Luiz go six months before the expiration of his contract (and possible one-year extension) however, would not.
The Willian rumor makes a bit more sense, though not by much, as it continues the saga of Barcelona making an approach but Willian deciding to stay (after Conte was sacked). The fact that Willian actually confirmed the official offer from the Blaugrana in the summer sets up many a sequel perfectly; this particular episode does straddle the line of believability by including a player-exchange with Malcom, whom Barca signed from Bordeaux specifically instead of Willian. But the 21-year-old has barely featured as apparently head coach Ernesto Valverde does not like him — Malcom ha 105 minutes to his name; that’s about 10 minutes more than Callum Hudson-Odoi, who certainly didn’t cost €40m! La Sexta, whoever they may be, claim that Barca would toss in €20m cash, plus young Malcom, for a Willian deal, presumably in January (via Sport Witness and Mundo Deportivo).
But if Chelsea weren’t willing to pull the trigger in the summer for a straight-cash deal of equal or even greater value, it’s unlikely we would do it now. Willian meanwhile loves playing for Sarri — and playing a ton as evidenced by his 11th straight start in all competitions last night — so unless he starts pushing for a move, Barcelona will have to placate their coach with some other signing. Then again, Willian’s contract is in its final two years, and that means that serious questions should be asked about the 30-year-old’s near- and long-term future.