Image Attribution – Sept. 19, 2013 – Source: Photos Soccer/Flickr
The West Ham game on Saturday highlighted an all too familiar theme with Arsenal’s attacking threat – or lack of – as we struggled to break down a very mediocre side battling relegation.
A name that has been thrown in to the mix to help improve the club’s attacking problems is Willian. After seven years at Chelsea, the Brazilian winger will be available on a free this summer – an aspect that will no doubt be appealing to the Arsenal hierarchy.
A potential negative about the transfer is the fact that Willian is now 31 years old. After seven successful seasons at Chelsea, during which he was linked with Barcelona on numerous occasions, the general opinion of Arsenal fans online seems to be that he is past his best. The potential transfer also comes with a series of other negative implications.
Another downside of the Willian link is that his preferred position is on the right hand side of a front three. This also happens to be the position of our £80 million record signing, Nicholas Pepe, who has struggled to hit the heights that Arsenal fans hoped he would in his first season. However, the Pepe transfer is one that Arsenal cannot afford not to work, and bringing in Willian would only give Pepe less game time.
Bringing in a player like Willian would also stifle the progression of a promising young player like Reiss Nelson, who is increasingly looking like he could be a starter in the near future. Nelson’s progression has already been hampered by injury and the transfer of Pepe last summer. The addition of another squad player in his position would probably see Nelson forced to go back out on loan for game time or possibly even sold in a permanent deal.
The issue of age is also something to take into consideration with Willian. With Arsenal reportedly wanting to promote youth and bring down the combined age of the squad, signing a 31 year old winger with only a couple of good seasons left in him would not fit that plan. The minimum financial risk of bringing in Willian on a free is a positive, but doesn’t outweigh the fact that it would be going against the idea of building something new at the club.
George Muddiman, an Arsenal fan and fellow blogger, is similarly unenthusiastic about the prospect of bringing in Willian, stating “I don’t think it would be the smartest signing. He’s out of contract in the summer and looking for one last big pay day. We should really be looking forward and bringing in younger and more exciting players.”
Something else to consider with this speculation is the presence of super-agent Kia Joorabchian. An Arsenal fan, Joorabchian has newfound power at the club, representing both David Luiz and Cedric Soares (signed in January) as the club look to cement ties with some of the more powerful agents in football.
Willian would be a decent addition as he would bring vast Premier League experience and a background of winning to the club. But it is difficult to get excited about a player who has been around for a long time and is currently sat on the Chelsea bench.