A few stories have featured prominently in our post-Wembley glories this week.
One of them is our FA Cup final opponent Willian, who according to reports is looking to move to Arsenal from Chelsea.
Willian has been underrated in some respects. He was a mainstay of their 2015 and 2017 title-winning sides, though not as prolific as Diego Costa or Eden Hazard.
He is a good player – he is hard-working, technical and offers a lot of terms of play development and chance creation. His scoring stats are not the best, though many Chelsea fans respect him and his contributions at the club.
To compare Willian to Pepe, Willian had 19 goals and assists in 19/20 whilst Pepe had 16. So there’s not much difference between the two in this regard.
However, whilst Willian to Arsenal looks strong, there are reasons why I don’t think it’s sound:
We’re THE Arsenal – not a Chelsea dumping ground
I don’t care if Chelsea has a European Cup and we don’t – we’re a bigger club. We have more fans, more trophies, and a more developed global brand. Chelsea is known worldwide for its success – but our global brand is based on success via style.
With Cech, Luiz, and perhaps soon Willian, getting their older players doesn’t seem a good look.
Is there a reason why we should get their hand me downs?
The rationale for Cech, Luiz, and Willian was all about the experience – Cech was hit and miss. He had a very good first season where he won the Golden Glove.
But his second, third, and fourth seasons were erratic. Luiz – well bar a few prominent good performances has been weak.
Willian may turn out to be good but for me, it’s a matter of principle – we’re too big to get Chelsea’s castoffs.
Not a necessity
We have several players who can function in the wide forward berth. Auba, Pepe, Saka, Gabi, and Nelson all fit here.
With Willian in, and assuming Auba stays, this means he would compete with Pepe.
Assuming further that Laca stays also, then where does he fit in? Dropping Pepe is unwise, as he needs time to prove himself fully.
Moreover, Saka’s time could be stunted as he’s shown he can be a star. The same is true of Martinelli.
So where would he fit in, exactly? A CB and CM/DM are priorities, and this leads on to the next point…
Arse-backwards transfer dealings
Many, even non-Gooners, thought that last summer we “won” the transfer window. Of the big six, we did have the most impressive window. Liverpool didn’t need to strengthen heavily, and Spurs didn’t build on Ndombele and Lo Celso., Chelsea were banned from getting players, and City didn’t replace Kompany fully. Man United got Wan-Bissaka and Maguire, though didn’t replace Lukaku.
We did, on the surface, address all key areas, with Luiz, Pepe, Ceballos, Martinelli, and Tierney.
But then whilst Pepe was welcome, he wasn’t a necessity. We really needed, as now, a good CB and CM/DM.
Even with Sanhelli and his contacts, we’re still doing transfers in an oddly Wenger-esque or Gazidis-esque manner. And this isn’t to knock Wenger at all – but it’s truth that baffling transfer decisions didn’t endear him to fans at the end of his tenure.
This Willian deal strikes to me as very Arsenal-like, given how we’ve operated in recent years.
I may be being premature – and if we can get in a CB/DM, I’d be happy to say views are wrong. Though we seldom ever do things correctly in recent seasons, and if our limited funds are spent on Willian, then what scope is there for Partey, or per recent reports Gabriel (no, not Paulista…..)
In a way, it’s like a “boy who cried wolf”. I’ve seen this many times before, and need assurance that the same won’t result again.
I accept fully that Willian is a good player, but then we can do more.
Nathan Ake would have been a good shout – even though he’s now a City player I feel he could have added something as a PL-experienced defender.
I expect Willian to be done – though not without reservations on my part.
MarbleHallsTV is an Arsenal social media account on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Been a Gooner since the 90s, inspired by Ian Wright, then Bergkamp, Vieira, Henry, Pires, Campbell, Rosicky, Koscielny, Ozil and Sanchez. A digital marketer/entrpreneur by profession, born in UK living in the Americas now.