Has Willian Made a Mistake in Joining Chelsea Ahead of Liverpool and Tottenham?
Chelsea have confirmed their latest signing of the summer with Brazilian attacker Willian signing for the Stamford Bridge club, but questions can be asked over whether the player has made the right move this summer.
BBC Sport's David Ornstein has confirmed that Willian has joined from Anzhi Makhachkala for £30 million on a five-year deal, being allocated the No. 22 shirt. He is Chelsea's fourth senior signing of the summer following Mark Schwarzer, Marco van Ginkel and Andre Schurrle, and he joins a huge list of attacking-midfield talent at the club.
Willian had the option of joining Spurs, where he had a medical before joining Chelsea, while Liverpool were also in the frame for his signature originally.
The new Blues recruit established himself as a threat in European football while playing for Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian top flight and the Champions League before he moved to Anzhi in January. His stint in Russia has been cut short, however, by the Dagestan club's need to bring in funds after owner Suleyman Kerimov opted to stop lavishly funding the side.
The Premier League quickly came calling, and while it is probable that Willian has joined the best-equipped of the three teams to try to win the league title, it is also inarguable that he has opted for the side where he could get the least amount of game time.
Where Liverpool are known to be looking for a left-sided attacker to add to their first XI on a weekly basis, and Tottenham are seeking to replace Gareth Bale with a quality, pacy attacker, Chelsea are stockpiling a final-third player in an already overcrowded squad.
To the "Matazar" trio that shone so brightly last season—consisting of Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar—has been added to with Van Ginkel and Schurrle, while Kevin de Bruyne has been recalled from his long-term loans in Germany.
Frank Lampard and Ramires, while certainly more "central" midfielders than out-and-out attacking ones, are also capable of filling those roles, and Victor Moses also remains at Stamford Bridge.
Add in Willian, and that gives Chelsea at least eight players battling for the three roles behind and beside a central striker—and Ben Rumsby of the Telegraph reports that Porto's Christian Atsu, who also plays in wide attacking areas, is now linked with a move to Stamford Bridge too.
While it is unthinkable that Chelsea will head past the transfer window closure without offloading at least one or two of those names, it still leaves Willian in the unenviable position of facing a direct battle with Hazard for a place on the left, his regular role with Shakhtar and Anzhi.
Should Willian have joined Chelsea?
He can play centrally, of course, but again, in that position he faces huge competition for time on the pitch.
Willian has signed a long-term contract, so Chelsea clearly see him as being an important player for now and the future, but if he takes a while to settle into his new team, he could quickly find himself marginalised if others hit the ground running under Jose Mourinho.
A £30 million investment is still a lot of money, even for Chelsea, but it might seem to be the case to some that the player himself might have been better served heading to White Hart Lane or Anfield for further first-team football—though, if Chelsea are competing for the league title at the end of the season and he is involved, he will think his decision fully justified.
All eyes now will be on just how much the Brazilian contributes to the coming campaign.
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