The Willian transfer saga hasn’t ended yet.
Most recently Chelsea has been linked with the Brazilian winger who just two days ago was rumored to be on his way to Tottenham. ESPN claimed he was undergoing his medical at the North London club only for news that Chelsea was in pursuit to appear a day later.
Before the news came out that Spurs were in pole position to sign him, Liverpool was the club many claimed Willian had set his sights on. Brendan Rodgers was disappointed the club couldn't complete the deal, and suggested there were financial reasons behind the failure to sign him.
Although many Liverpool fans consider this a blow to the club’s chances to qualify for the Champions League, they should look a little closer at the type of player Willian is and realize he is not right for the Liverpool system.
What Brendan Rodgers started at Liverpool almost two seasons ago was a project based on small technical footballers who could pass intricately, change directions while dribbling at pace, and score goals. Transfers thus far have suited those qualities. Philippe Coutinho, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and even Luis Suarez are all players that are adept at passing, can change direction with space and can find little pockets of space between lines of defense.
In addition, Liverpool’s own academy has supplied Raheem Sterling and Jordan Ibe, who are two raw but very technical English players that have the potential to score lots of goals. Rodgers’ philosophy stems from the Spanish philosophy that won Barcelona the Champions League three times in the past seven years. Messi, Pedro, David Villa, Thierry Henry, Alexis Sanchez, Iniesta and Xavi are all players that can either score goals or thread through balls in tight spaces.
The reason why I brought up that philosophy is because Willian does not fit it. Willian cannot make intricate passes nor is he a proven goalscorer. Yes, he’s a flashy player who’s full of tricks and scores the occasional breathtaking goal, but that’s not what Liverpool needs at the moment. During the 2011-12 season, Willian scored only five goals when he played on the left forward position of a Shakhtar Donetsk 4-3-3 formation. Liverpool’s front three must consist of proven goalscorers if the team is to qualify for the Champions League.
When Pep Guardiola took over at Barcelona in 2008, one of his first objectives was to build a completely new first team. He got rid of aging stars like Ronaldinho and Deco and brought up La Masia players Iniesta and Xavi because they could keep possession and pass the ball with near perfection.
So do not be so quick to despair that Willian isn’t having his medical at Melwood at the moment. It may be a blessing that we avoided spending over £30 million on the wrong player. He simply just doesn’t fit the mold that is required for the new Liverpool system.