Willian may divide opinion but he’s proving his worth to Mikel Arteta and Arsenal

Arsenal’s signing of Willian during the summer raised eyebrows. Under Mikel Arteta, the Gunners have their sights set firmly on the future.

The Spaniard has started to construct a framework to sustain the North London club for years to come and the harnessing of young players is a big part of that framework. Willian, however, is 32.

Not only that, the Brazilian was a free agent after leaving Chelsea at the end of last season and demanded wages of £150,000-a-week to sign for Arsenal.

The Gunners ended up signing Willian to a three-year contract in a move that is at odds with their prudent spending elsewhere. For context, Arsenal will be paying Willian £150,000-a-week until he’s 35.

A substantial amount of money for a player who has long split opinion. There is no denying Willian has been successful in the Premier League, winning the English title twice in seven seasons at Chelsea.

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He was an integral part of a good team for a number of seasons at Stamford Bridge, but there were some doubts over his productivity.

Willian’s numbers at Chelsea were commendable. 63 goals in 339 appearances in all competitions is not to be sniffed at, but some Blues fans argued he should have scored and assisted even more frequently such were the positions he found himself in on the pitch. Indeed, Willian’s decision-making in the final third is sometimes questionable.

That has already been evident in some of his performances for Arsenal this season. Despite this, Arteta currently favours the Brazilian on the right side of his attack over Nicolas Pepe, believing he is a better fit in the back three systems, which sees Hector Bellerin providing the width in the wing-back role.

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