Chelsea Transfer News: Breaking Down What Willian Signing Means for Blues
Well, Chelsea can't pull out of the Willian deal now.
The Blues confirmed the deal on their official website. The Brazilian midfielder was granted a work permit and signed a five-year contract with the club.
They're wasting little time in getting him on the training pitch, as Chelsea's Twitter account posted a photo of the midfielder already hard at work.
It's a bit of a quizzical signing, as Willian doesn't do much more than what Chelsea had already in the midfield. Surely it would have been smarter to add a centre-back, defensive midfielder or forward before spending a reported £32 million, as reported by Dominic Fifield of the Guardian on another attacking midfielder.
That doesn't matter now, and all that's left is for Jose Mourinho to figure out how best to utilize his new purchase.
Here's a breakdown of how this signing impacts Chelsea.
The Futures of Current Players
First there's the issue of what Mourinho will do with the players he already had before the transfer. Chelsea is not without plenty of world-class attacking midfielders. It's one thing to have enough depth to compete on multiple fronts. It's something else to just stockpile talent and create a selection problem.
With so many talented players, Mourinho will have a headache trying to placate all of his stars. One of the easiest ways to get rid of that headache is to sell at least one player.
That player doesn't appear to be Juan Mata.
According to Phil McNulty of the BBC, Mourinho has ruled out any sale for the Spanish winger.
And on another matter, or Mata, Mourinho unequivocal about suggestions Juan Mata might be sold: "No chance. Juan goes nowhere."— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) August 26, 2013
There was a bit of a surprise, though, when Radio 5 Live reported Mata's father was in Arsenal's director's box (h/t Rob Harris of The Associated Press).
5live say Juan Mata's dad in Arsenal directors' box— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) August 27, 2013
It would be shocking to see a player of Mata's caliber leaving Stamford Bridge. He's one of the best in the Premier League.
One Blues winger who is expendable is Victor Moses.
McNulty posited that with Willian arriving, Moses might be feeling a little unwanted.
So if Chelsea do snatch Willian that gives them Willian, Oscar, Mata, Hazard. If one thing is certain it means Victor Moses is struggling.— Phil McNulty (@philmcnulty) August 22, 2013
That would be a smart move, as it allows Moses to stay in England and get first-team football, yet there's not the threat of him leaving Chelsea for a small fee and excelling elsewhere, like Daniel Sturridge.
The other midfielders—Oscar, Eden Hazard, Andre Schurrle and Kevin De Bruyne—all look to be untouchable.
What Willian Brings to the Pitch
It's easy to see why Chelsea were seduced by Willian's talent. He's been stuck at Anzhi for the past few years, but that hasn't meant that he has regressed as a footballer.
The 25-year-old is just beginning to enter his prime. Sure, there are question marks over his potential. There are the same questions over any player of his age.
This is a player who's extremely quick and very skilled with the ball at his feet. The one thing that Willian doesn't do is score goals. In 166 games across the Brazilian, Russian and Ukrainian first divisions, he's only scored 23 goals.
Otherwise, Willian's a supremely talented footballer.
Where Willian Fits in
Mourinho will probably settle on a 4-2-3-1 most of the time. That's the formation he used at Real Madrid, and it's a formation that would suit the players Chelsea have, as well.
Willian can play any of the three attacking options in midfield. You can slot him in on either wing or play him through the centre. With his speed, it's probably best to put him out wide.
By playing Willian at left wing, the only real competition you have for him is Hazard. Mata and De Bruyne are better on the right, Oscar is more of a central midfielder and Schurrle can operate as a second striker or even a lone forward.
Willian's speed and creativity would be great to bring on in matches where Chelsea are having a hard time breaking down an opposing side, such as the Manchester United match. With Willian, you don't have to knock it up the pitch in order to make him effective. You can give him the ball near the halfway line and watch him run at the defence.
He's used to playing in a 4-2-3-1, so there shouldn't be much trouble having him adjust to Chelsea's formation. With Ashley Cole behind him, there's plenty of cover for him, so he won't have to track back as much. Having a left-back like Cole also lets Willian cut in—as he's wont to do—while not sacrificing a ton of width in the attack.
While this is a questionable signing, it's not one without its merits.
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