WILLIAN is entering the final two months of his Chelsea contract – with the question now should he remain a Blue?
The experienced Brazilian is wanted by a host of European clubs, including London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham.
But to avoid losing Willian for nothing, Chelsea must extend the 31-year-old’s contract.
Chelsea have made attempts to, but refuse to accept Willain’s demand of a three-year deal – leaving his Stamford Bridge future up in the air.
SunSport’s Andrew Dillon and Tom Sheen make their cases for the floppy-haired Brazilian to stay or go. And you can have your say, below:
TOM SHEEN – GO
WILLIAN became a firm Chelsea fans’ favourite long before he ever got close to kicking a ball in Blue.
You all know the story by now, the Brazilian was so close to signing with bitter rivals Tottenham, he even did his medical before being whisked off in a taxi to West London.
Seven years, 329 appearances and five major trophies later, you would expect a player with that kind of CV to be a bona fide club legend.
But alas, there has not been a player in the Roman Abramovich era who divides opinion quite like the winger.
For those of us in the firmly anti-Willian camp – and remember there is no middle ground in this particular debate – it primarily comes down to one thing: goals.
Well not just goals, but scoring goals, creating goals for others and doing things that might generally lead to goals in football matches.
It’s something that Willian, who has never hit double figures in the Premier League, has struggled with mightily during his time at Stamford Bridge.
He’s scored just 59 times and added only 52 assists, a contribution once every three games.
That’s not even close to enough, and please take a breath if you’re thinking ‘one in three isn’t that bad’. We’re talking about the starting right winger for Chelsea.
Not a relegation-threatened club who set up to nick a goal on the break (except for that one season), but Chelsea who – behind Man City – have been the most dominant team in English football in the last seven years (well, except for that one season).
To watch a Chelsea game over the past seven years is to have seen the Brazilian miss gilt-edged chances, overhit crosses, slow down the play and struggle to make the right decisions on a counter-attack.
The pro-Willian brigade have their default position and hold on to it with the white-knuckled grip of the most zealous believers: his workrate.
Yes, Willian works hard. Yes, his managers haven’t always asked him to play in ultra-attacking teams. Yes, he has had to cover because Eden Hazard wasn’t the most motivated when tracking back.
But I’m afraid if £32million is being spent on a floppy-haired Brazilian winger, the last thing you should expect – and laud – is the ability to track back like a prime Steve Stone.
We want flair. We want excitement. We want to see a f***ing corner beat the first f***ing man. Most of all we just wanted more goals.
There have been moments, obviously, important and impressive performances – and plenty of silverware.
And yes, Willian’s name will be heard long and loud in the years to come at Stamford Bridge.
But just like with Bobby Zamora and Will Grigg, Willian’s name will be chanted because of the absolute brilliance of his song rather than the quality of his football.
ANDREW DILLON – STAY
THE traditional image of the Brazilian star footballer is one who swaggers around a pitch drenched in sunshine but dry as a bone through not breaking sweat.
The romanticised Samba soccer which captivates audiences worldwide and makes Brazil and its players so revered.
Willian is not that. The industrious winger is also energetic, committed and direct when needs be.
Chelsea fans are divided over his usefulness but the manager is not. Frank Lampard has made it plain he wants his veteran winger to be given a new contract.
Lampard played with Willian and now has the vastly-experienced winner playing for him. He has seen the player from both sides of the fence: as a team-mate and now one of his employees.
Working for one of your friends is a big challenge. The fact Willian has done it and still continues to impress Lampard should point Chelsea fans in one direction about his value to the club.
Eight goals last season during the impotent Sarri campaign. Thirteen the years before. Twelve in 2017.
Sixty four games aged 30 for club and country made up his exhausting campaign. Now in his twilight, the classic ‘impact’ sub if need be.
There have been times when Willian has carried Chelsea’s flyweight strikeforce. His eye for goal at free kicks critical in keeping the team in matches or snatching vital points.
When Barcelona employed their usual sneaky method to try to lure him to the Nou Camp, Willian turned around and publicly declared he wanted to stay at Chelsea.
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It’s the sort of statement a player’s agent dreads because it is cutting off what could be a pathway to vast amounts of cash. It is selling yourself short.
As the old saying goes ‘loyalty is what they screw you with’. Yet undeterred Willian followed that up by announcing he would willingly play on for Chelsea during these unprecedented times by playing on past his contract expiry date if circumstances require it this summer.
Why do you think Chelsea bent over backwards to let him fly back to Brazil and join his family during corona lockdown?
The much-adored Diego Costa would have gone and not come back. Oh hang on a minute, he did.