The Brazil international forward left Stamford Bridge for Emirates Stadium after failing to reach an agreement on the length of a new contract
Willian has struggled to make the desired impact at Arsenal on the back of his 2020 move to the Gunners and admits he “really wanted to stay” at Chelsea before crossing a fierce London divide.
The experienced Brazilian forward dropped into the free agent pool last summer after reaching the end of his contract at Stamford Bridge.
Fresh terms had been mooted, but no compromise could be reached and the two-time Premier League title winner found the three-year deal he was after at Emirates Stadium.
What has been said?
Discussing his decision to swap blue for red, Willian has told UOL Esporte: “It was difficult to make that decision because the rivalry between the two clubs is very big.
“It was well thought out… talking to my wife and even the agent many times.
“I didn’t leave the club with a fight, I left the doors open. Everyone knew the conditions, I really wanted to stay.
“We ended up not finding an agreement, I ended up asking for three years, Chelsea wanted to give two, and everyone knows this story. That’s why I ended up leaving.”
He added on trading west London for life in the north of the English capital: “One of the things that made me decide to go to Arsenal was really the various conversations I had with Mikel Arteta, with Edu too.
“They convinced me that I’d be a very important player in the squad.
“They wanted to change the philosophy of the club, to make it possible for Arsenal to fight again in the Premier League, to play in the Champions League again.”
How has Willian fared at Arsenal?
Big things were expected of the South American after linking up with the Gunners, given what he had already achieved in the Premier League.
He has, however, found the going tough during a debut campaign at Arsenal, with a starting berth already no longer guaranteed.
Willian is yet to open his goal account for Arteta’s side and has contributed just four assists to the collective cause through 26 appearances in all competitions.
Questions have been asked of Arsenal’s decision to hand a long-term contract to a player that may be past his best, but there is still time for a proven performer to rediscover a spark and silence his critics.