It’s an enduring story, Willian’s reunion with José Mourinho at Manchester United. It’s played out over just about every transfer window since The Special One decamped to his Manchester hotel. Willian, of course, remains a Chelsea player. Even more enduring than these semi-silly rumors are his love of Chelsea, it would appear. Once, he even talked about wanting to stay at Stamford Bridge until retirement (and the restaurant industry?) beckons.
Presumably, none of those feelings have really changed, even if Willian made a bit of a scene when Antonio Conte took him off for Tiémoué Bakayoko in the FA Cup semifinal. Conte’s substitutions have been criticized throughout the season, but that move happened to pay off in added midfield solidity and even a second, clinching goal. And while Willian didn’t start the next game, that owed more to the formation change (3-5-1-1) than anything else. Willian, as he’s done consistently under Conte, did make the customary substitute appearance.
In fact, Willian’s bond to the Blues may be strong enough that Mourinho is already admitting defeat, before the summer has even truly begun.
“I think a team without a Brazilian isn’t a team. I think their talent is fantastic and the creativity of the Brazilian player cannot be measured. I worked with Brazilian players in every team I coached, and I enjoyed a lot.
“Who knows we can have a Brazilian in the squad next year. I don’t believe it will be Willian, because Chelsea won’t make it possible.”
-José Mourinho; source: ESPN Brasil via Metro
Weird nationality-based classifications aside, Mourinho could be engaging in a bit of reverse psychology — it worked with Matić! — or perhaps he’s setting a potential scenario for a deal involving Martial.
Either way, Willian has two more years left on his contract and will be turning 30 in August, so if he is to leave Chelsea, this summer just might be the best time for all involved. Chelsea would maximize the transfer fee received, Willian would get a nice fat long-term contract somewhere, and we’d presumably replace him (and maybe Pedro, too) with some young talent (Chucky! Pulisic! But let us close out of FM 2018).
For now, he’s concentrating on finishing the season and making an impact at the World Cup as one of Brazil’s key players, putting to use all that he’s learned in his five years in the Premier League while working with one of the best in the world, Tite.
“I’ve learned a lot in my time in England. I have been here for five years, so I’ve learned many things.“
One of Brazil’s warm-up games will be at Anfield, which is a place Willian certainly knows by now, even if the feeling will be quite different than when playing there with Chelsea.
“It’ll be different with the Seleção, so there’s no doubt that it’ll be an important game, and we’ll keep our mentality of being able to play well, with the knowledge that it’s a game to prepare for the World Cup.
“There’s no doubt that the importance is to prepare us well with every game by maintaining the same game style and same game philosophy and to keep mentally strong during those games, which are all very important for us to be able to arrive well at the World Cup.”
The ultimate aim, of course, is to win it. Always.
“...we hope to do the same thing they did [in 2002], which is to win the World Cup.”
-Willian; source: Yahoo Sport UK