Why is it that some players claim to be the last one to hear about transfer rumors? Just this summer, Thibaut Courtois was reportedly “baffled” that Chelsea were shopping for a replacement, even though he only has a year left on his deal and deliberately stalled contract talks, while seemingly pushing for a way out of London to join his kids in Madrid.
Now, it’s Willian’s turn. In the weeks after our FA Cup win, rumors have been coming thick and fast that first Manchester United and then Barcelona were nibbling around the edges of Chelsea’s resolve to keep him, with the sums involved initially set at £50 million by Barcelona’s initial offer, and £70 million by Chelsea’s demands.
Just this week, good ol’ Mundo Deportivo, Barcelona’s media water-carriers, went so far as to claim that Willian was “crazed” about the prospect of becoming an honorary Catalonian.
Apparently, that’s all news to the man himself. At least, that’s what he told the world media two days ahead of Brazil’s clash with Belgium in the World Cup quarterfinal.
“We end up listening to some speculations that appear on the internet, but [now] is not the time to speak about that. I did not receive any information whether this is true, and I am looking to be focused on Brazil at this moment.”
-Willian; Source: ESPN Brasil
At this point it’s worth remembering that even Napoli’s president, Aurelio de Laurentiis claimed that Chelsea hadn’t approached him about Maurizio Sarri, even though an offer had reportedly been made and refused. Point being, players and club presidents alike pay people good money to represent their interests so they don’t need to get involved in the nitty-gritty that isn’t matters of the pitch.
This may well be what’s happening on Willian’s behalf, because these rumors not only aren’t dying down, they seem to be gaining volume.
One side of the deal is Willian himself, who was demonstrably peeved when Antonio Conte kept him in a rotational role for the second season in a row. Another side of the deal is Chelsea, who these days are always looking for ways to fund their transfer activity and who would bite the hand off of anyone who coughed-up £70 million to take a disgruntled winger nearing 30 years of age off their hands. The third side is either Manchester United (José Mourinho links, proven player, more money than the national treasury... you know the deal) or Barcelona (still desperate for a Neymar replacement, despite spending silly money on Philippe Coutinho last winter).
There’s no telling how this will end. But if someone comes up with the money, Willian will be wearing a new shirt next season, and Chelsea will need a replacement for him.