Chelsea are this month rumoured to be chasing the signing of Shakhtar Donetsk playmaker Willian. The Brazilian midfielder has been attracting the interest of Europe’s heavyweights for some time now as he continues to impress in both domestic and European competition. Reports this week suggest that The Blues have submitted a £16.5m bid that was rejected by the Ukrainian outfit.
Much like Willian, Shakhtar Donetsk are equally becoming a bigger force to be reckoned with domestically and in the Champions League, especially with their daunting home form which saw them go 56 matches unbeaten in all competition. Last year they reached the quarter finals of the Champions League only to be eliminated by eventual winners Barcelona, a run that marked the great strides the club has made in recent years.
The club have won the Ukrainian league title five times in seven seasons as well as being the last winners of the UEFA Cup in 2009. The fact Shakhtar are becoming a more successful team, with the pulling power to attract players from more attractive leagues like former Arsenal forward Eduardo and ex-Barcelona defender Dmytro Chygrynskiy means that for Chelsea they are not in a position where they have to sell their key assets.
Having netted 28 goals in 188 games for his club, as well as 2 goals for the Brazilian national side in his 15 appearances, Willian has established himself as a key player in a strong Shakhtar Donetsk squad which is why Chelsea and others have become so interested in him.
However, if Willian were to move to West London where would he fit in Chelsea’s midfield, that already includes the creative talent of Spaniard Juan Mata? Chelsea’s system under Villas-Boas accommodates the flexible 4-5-1 /4-3-3 formation which allows wingers to operate as support strikers to the lone forward who is currently out of form Fernando Torres. It seems the preferred choices for this role are currently Mata and Daniel Sturridge, with Florent Malouda and Salomon Kalou waiting in the wings, whist the central three midfielders rotate between Lampard, Raul Meireles, John Obi Mikel, Oriel Romeu and Ramires, with Michael Essien returning from a long lay-off with injury the competition for places has become fierce.
Any would almost certainly represent another kick in the teeth for Frank Lampard who appears to be edging one step closer towards the Stamford Bridge door with every day that passes bringing fresh speculation about his future and new destinations for when he departs.
With the development of Daniel Sturridge seen to be key for Villas-Boas, and Mata having provided much of Chelsea’s flair so far this season, it is hard to say whether Willian would demand a first team spot in the attacking role in which he would be best utilised or if he would sit deeper in a tightly contested central midfield role.
The key to any potential deal may well lie with the relationship Chelsea’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s holds with Shakhtar’s billionaire counterpart Rinat Akhmetov who are reportedly friends. Having bought Willian from Brazilian side Corinthians for £10m five years ago it will take a significantly increased fee to bring him to Stamford Bridge.
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