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Arsenal seal Willian’s signature and finally announce it

After early rumors and a transfer rumor mill that saw Arsenal bouncing back and forth on choosing to sign Willian or Coutinho, Willian has put his name on the line for Arsenal sealing himself a three-year deal

You would have to search high and low to try and find a football fan or Arsenal fan that is unfamiliar with the name Willian, as he has been a steadfast name featuring in London rival Chelsea’s lineup since 2013. In that time, the attacking winger has made 234 appearances for the club in the Premier League and netted himself 37 goals while tallying 33 assists.

Despite turning 32 on August 9th, Willian has managed to record his career best numbers for Chelsea supplying them with 9 goals and 7 assists on their way to placing third. After reportedly turning down a two-year deal to continue his work with Frank Lampard, he makes a short journey to The Emirates.

It is impossible for almost everything a club does these days not to be picked up and this deal was no different. However, its reception came with mixed reviews. If one thing is clear about the arguments over Willian, it’s that many people have different views about how the Gunners should go about rebuilding the squad. This is because a player like Willian comes with many pros and many cons. Depending on which portions you put more stock in or rank as a higher priority, it is likely a direct correlation to how much like or dislike this deal.

Pros:

  • Willian is coming to Arsenal off is best season as far as goals and assists with Chelsea
  • Despite his age, Willian made 47 appearances this year and has never made less than 40 in a season for the club
  • An excellent history without injuries to help extend that appearance tally
  • Willian’s 50 career big chances created in the Premier League suggests he could fill a void in for Arsenal who lack droves of creativity
  • Versatility. While Willian has made a name for himself mostly as a winger, he offers the ability to be flexed into a few different attacking positions – Right wing, attacking midfielder, left wing
  • A soft pro of being capable of mentoring the younger players with his age and experience. It is something we have seen younger players mention about Luiz or Martinez and something Willian could supply
  • With a SofaScore Player Rating of 7.49 on the season, he is only behind City’s Kevin De Bruyne (8.0) and Riyad Mahrez (7.53) which is a high level of play very consistently. For context, Arsenal’s best, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang registered a 7.16 on the season

Cons:

  • Many will question the sustainability of that level of play for someone turning 32
  • “Free transfers” aren’t free. Willian comes with a 3-year deal which its sizable for his age
  • At this age and with this deal, Arsenal may find it tough to move Willian along if they ever feel his services are not needed
  • While Willian offers an increased level of creativity and production in comparison to the current Arsenal side, that is a pretty low bar to beat
  • 9 goals and 7 assists is a a decent tally, but if Willians performance wanes, is one year of that amount worth the potential burden of his [terms] deal

There are plenty of reasons that it is suggested that Chelsea were interested in keeping him. He fulfills what Arteta is looking for in an attacking midfielder, he can play the wings as well, he may look to play the number 10 role, or the right central midfield role of a 4-3-3 which means he could offer Arteta a lot of options.

“I believe he’s a player that can really make a difference for us,” said Mikel Arteta, “we had a clear intention to strengthen in the attacking midfielder and the winger positions [and] he is a player that gives us a lot of versatility, he can play in three or four different positions.” A sentiment called out in my own piece on where Willian fits in the side.

In a message from Arsena, technical director Edu said: “I know him very well, since a long time ago because we’ve been working together for the Brazilian national team and of course I was following him because he played for another club. He has a lot of fantastic attributes as a person, as a football player of course, his character. I’m 100 per cent sure that everybody in the dressing room, the fans, myself and Mikel will enjoy having Willian in our side.“ 

Willian will play a big role in this upcoming year as Arsenal’s number 12, but many will hold off on judging the effectiveness of this transfer until they see what he offers on month 18. I wish him nothing but the best, I am ready to be proven wrong and shown that this deal is a smart acquisition in the long run for Arsenal and not just in the short term. The details of his wages are unclear, but many believe it is £100k a week.

Good luck to our newest Gunner!

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