Following his appeals to Chelsea via the media and, presumably, in person, Willian got permission to return home to Brazil, to join his family in self-isolation from COVID-19.
If and when he will need to (and/or be able to) return, no one knows, but for Willian, there’s also the extra layer of uncertainty of his expiring contract. While he’s already said that he’d be willing to play on past June 30 to finish out this season, in his latest interviews with local media, he’s once again made it pretty clear that his time at Chelsea overall is ending after the two sides were never able to quite agree on terms of a new contract extension.
“The only negotiation we had was a contract renewal with Chelsea, which was not feasible. They wanted a two-year deal, and I asked for three. Now everything has stopped, and I will only have news when I go back [to England].”
Since his future is up in the air, there has been a lot of speculation in the Brazilian media where he will go next.
But Willian claims that, at least for now, no team have made an approach, be they European or Brazilian — though he would dismiss any of the latter as his objective is to stay in Europe. England, specifically. Probably London, even more specifically.
“We hear rumours, and we know there are clubs interested, since I will be a free agent and I will be able to negotiate [with anyone]. But there are no offers right now.
“Palmeiras did not look for me. No one did. I cannot deny that I have special affection for Corinthians, but going back to Brazil is not something that I think about at this moment. [...] I still have a lot to offer in the European market.”
“Personally I think the Premier League is the most difficult league, I think it is the most competitive, with difficult teams to play against... I like the Premier League a lot, the playing style, stadium atmosphere, I adapted well...”
-Willian; Source: UOL
But it would be silly to rule out other European leagues completely at this stage, so Willian does not do that.
“My wish is to stay in the Premier League, but I do not dismiss the [potential] opportunity to play in other leagues.”
-Willian; Source: ESPN
But that’s all in the future. For now, there’s only Chelsea, and COVID-19, and trying to stay healthy and fit.
Willian may be back in Brazil, but he’s following guidelines from the club in trying to stay ready for the eventual resumption of the season.
“We have the routine that the club give to us during this time [at home]: exercises, physical readiness, nutrition as well... There is a lot of care from Chelsea’s part to make sure we return well.
“They know that we will not be able to return at the same physical level, since we lost match fitness. It is different [from usual], but we will not return to the pitch on a bad condition.”
Of course there are greater concerns for all of us at this time — which is precisely why Willian wanted to be back home with his family. As long as we have our family and our health, things will be alright, right?
“I am completely calm with regards to my future in the team, the most important thing is staying healthy. In times like these we do not think about football, which team I will play, if I will stay there [at Chelsea] or not, I have no concerns for now. I know that we will get the best of this situation, what matters is dealing with it.”
-Willian; Source: UOL
And who knows, maybe when this is all said and done, Willian and Chelsea will come to terms after all. Willian may not be the most prolific player in terms of raw numbers — never has, never will — but he is reliable with an enviable ability to stay healthy, and perform consistently across many seasons. And that’s something that could be useful for a few more seasons still at Stamford Bridge.