…Willian set to exit Chelsea over disagreement on contract extension
Willian’s contract situation over at Chelsea hurtled to an unsavory crescendo in the days following the club’s defeat at the FA Cup final. Out of contract at the end of the season, Willian has resolutely refused to pen a new deal at the West London club. His major grouse being the club’s reluctance to offer him more than 2 years in the new deal.
Chelsea has, in recent times, adopted a policy of not granting players older than 30 more than a year’s extension. A similar situation played out at the club a little over a year ago in May 2019 when David Luiz, then 32 years old, refused a one year extension. The club and the player eventually settled for 2 years although Luiz would join Arsenal just 3 months later for 8 million pounds on an initial one year contract.
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While Chelsea have broken its own rule to offer the same two years instead of one to Willian, the winger has refused, insisting it has to be 3 years or nothing. And now, Chelsea are at the verge of losing him to, in something akin to dejavu, the same club they lost Luiz to.
One would have thought losing David in the heart of its defence would have thought Chelsea a lesson or two on why not to lose your most experienced players. With Luiz out of the team, the defence looked like a fleeting shadow of the one that had won the Europa League just last season. The team kept a total of 28 clean sheets in 63 games played across all competitions, against just 13 in 54 games this season.
It wasn’t difficult to see that Chelsea’s biggest problems this season have been their defence and goalkeeping departments. While it could be argued that the goalkeeping department was the biggest problem with Kepa Arrizabalaga putting up horrendous showings, an indisputable fact is that the same Kepa had 23 of Chelsea’s 28 clean sheets last season.
The missing piece of Chelsea’s defensive puzzle has been, IMO, David Luiz who, despite his occasional loss of concentration resulting in calamitous performances, had been the bulwark of Arteta’s defence and Emery’s before him. Luiz was very instrumental when Arsenal defeated Chelsea in the FA Cup final.
Sadly, the Luiz situation appears to be playing out all over again, only this time another Brazilian is at the middle of it. 9 goals in the EPL makes Willian Chelsea’s second top scorer while 7 assists makes him the club’s top benefactor. Overall, he’s arguably Chelsea’s best attacking player and certainly the most experienced. And once again, Chelsea is set to lose one of its more inspirational performers.
I’ve always been of the opinion that you don’t lose your most experienced players, no matter how awesome your young players are. One could only hope the promising Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount, along with the arrival of Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner and maybe Kai Harvetz does enough to plug the gap Willian’s imminent departure could leave.