With his Chelsea contract set to expire this summer, Willian has been heavily linked with a move to Arsenal in recent months but looking at the squad Mikel Arteta is trying to build, who his arrival really be the best thing for the club?
The financial implications of the current pandemic may see clubs across the globe look towards more free transfers and/or swap deals for players but that doesn’t mean Arsenal must join the race for every player available.
“We want to bring in have to be players that will help us and make a difference in the squad not just for the sake of just bringing in players.” Arteta said in January and it would only seem logical that he, Raul Sanllehi and Edu Gaspar go into the summer window -whenever it may open – with a similar mindset.
Signing Pablo Mari and Cedric Soares in January, Arteta and co. proved they could identify what Arsenal needed at that point in time, and deliver on bringing them to the club. In the case of Willian, although bringing him to the club may not be too much of an issue, the necessity of having him doesn’t seem club.
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For instance, when David Luiz made the trip from west to north London last season, the intention was clear. He would be a much-needed replacement for Laurent Koscielny both as a talented defender but an experienced figure that could lead those around him. It may have taken a while for the intentions to be met by Luiz, but Arsenal got there.
With his spell at Chelsea overlapping with Luiz’s there may be a similar argument for him to come in as a similar figure but that would make far less sense. If Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang stays at the club, he has that all-encompassing father figure role for those coming up in the final third, but what is almost as important is that Arsenal’s aren’t short of options in the positions Willian would take up. In fact, the depth in these positions comes from players fans and Arteta alike are most excited about.
This season, the Brazilian has mostly played off the right [16 of 27 starts] as well as filling in as a No.10. [six of 27 starts] and out on the left [five of 27 starts].
As Arteta has committed to getting the best out of Nicolas Pepe on Arsenal’s right – which he is still trying to do – Willian would most likely be a squad option if he was signed. Whether he’d even be Pepe’s second choice isn’t certain, however, as Reiss Nelson – who Arteta coached at the age of 16 – has proven that if the Ivorian isn’t up to the standard, Arteta will decide to start him.
What will threaten Willian even more when it comes to Nelson is the fact that, like him, he can play across all three positions behind the striker. Some may only view him as a winger but throughout his career, he has played 23 times as a No.10. [for the Under-18s, Under-23s, first team and Hoffenheim], scoring…