Arsenal winger Willian has confessed that he wanted to sign a contract extension with Chelsea before making the switch to the Emirates Stadium in the summer.
The Brazilian failed to agree on a new deal with Chelsea and saw his contract expire, but that was not for lack of trying from either side. Both Willian and Chelsea wanted to thrash out an extension, but they failed to agree on the terms, allowing the winger to join Arsenal instead.
Given the rivalry between the two clubs, it was obviously a controversial move on Willian’s part, but he confessed to Brazilian YouTube channel UOL that it was one he had wanted to avoid making initially.
“It was difficult to make that decision, it wasn’t easy,” he admitted. “Because, as you said, the rivalry between the two clubs is very big. It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Chelsea for Arsenal. It was well thought out, a thoughtful decision, talking to my wife and even the agent many times.
“Look, I think some fans asked this question. But the majority understood because 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.”
There were a handful of sides interested in Willian, whose desire was always to remain in London, and he went on to admit that Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta played a huge rule in convincing him to make the controversial move.
“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,” Willian explained.
“They convinced me to go there that it’d be a really cool project, that it’d be really good for me to be able to go there. That I’d be a very important player in the squad. That 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.
“So there were several conversations I had, several conversations that ended up pleasing me, so that’s why I ended up making this decision. But it really wasn’t easy to make that decision, it had to be well thought out.”