London club Chelsea unveiled Brazilian star Willian from Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for around £30 million. We're sad to see this particular transfer saga come to an end, because for a couple of weeks, this was the best story going.
For those who don't know, here's basically what happened: Liverpool FC decided they needed more creative options to combine with the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suárez. They found Willian, a Brazilian international winger who had only just moved to Anzhi in January but was put up for sale, along with every other player on his team, this summer. But then Tottenham Hotspur, hypothetically cash-rich from their maybe-like-£100-million Gareth Bale sale to Real Madrid, got involved. Bale was kind of possibly a lock to go to Spain, which meant that Spurs needed a dynamic replacement on the wing, and since Liverpool were interested, grabbing Willian would directly damage the Reds, who along with Arsenal are shaping up to be their most direct rivals for Champions League qualification. So Spurs flew him into London for a highly-publicized medical and contract negotiations. Willian was in photos, newspaper articles, Spurs message boards, everything. Then Spurs' local foes, richer-and-better-and-more-attractive Chelsea caught wind, which is when this happened:
Now Willian's a Chelsea player, and per a depressing number of people, a money-grubbing whore for not showing anything but absolute loyalty to either of two clubs he has never played for. What makes this worse is that Liverpool and Spurs really needed the Brazilian.
Liverpool and Tottenham have tried to placate their fans by claiming that the only reason the Brazilian is in West London instead of at their home ground right now is because of money, by which they mean that Willian didn't turn them down because they're emphatically worse than Chelsea, even though they definitely are that. Let's take their word for it. The transfer still outlines the tiers of the Premier League.
Liverpool is a historically unbelievable club, but they haven't done shit in a while, they're missing European qualification these days, and much of their allure and prestige has evaporated. Spurs haven't won anything of note in a couple decades, unless you want to count the League Cup, which we are not. But they probably-imminently flipped their most valuable asset in Bale—at the end of the day, a 21-goal, four-assist player, and a single individual to boot—for Roberto Soldado, Paulinho, Nacer Chadli, and Étienne Capoue, who are not to be sniffed at. Now, Spurs have the advantage of being both a legitimate threat to the top of the table and a team with room to grow. They have a bright, bright future.
But, c'mon. This is Chelsea. This is José Mourinho. We've got them winning the whole damn thing. They're better. They're sexier. While Liverpool and Spurs will be ecstatic with a Champions League berth this year, Chelsea will probably be fighting for the tournament title. It's a no-brainer where Willian should've gone.
Now the question is what Chelsea are going to do with this little bundle of pep. It looks like Mourinho is going to use him. Though the Special One is still getting to know and auditioning his squad, as was evident in the underwhelming draw against Manchester United Monday, it looks like he isn't going to find much use for Juan Mata, who's no athletic marvel but somehow finagled his way into being one of the top five players in the Premier League last year. (Seems dumb to us, but whatever.) Mourinho's style of winger is a more direct, more powerful one, who instead of mostly distributing the ball from the flanks, is prone to cutting in, asking questions of the opposing defensive center backs, and scoring if and whenever he can. Wonderkid/absolute stud Eden Hazard is safe, and Brazilian attacking midfielder Oscar looks to have carved out the spot behind the forward, if a serviceable one ever arrives. We can expect Willian to be favored over the rest of the Chelsea wingers, because he's better than guys like Victor Moses, Kevin De Bruyne, and André Schürrle, and is more liable to find spots between opposing back fours and and midfields to collect the ball, turn, and run at the defense than Mata, who pulls strings from a little deeper.
That doesn't mean that Willian will score. Willian rarely scores, kind of like but not as exaggeratedly awesome as Manchester City new boy Jesús Navas, who is mind-numbingly scary with the ball on the flank and, quite perplexingly, also hasn't scored a single goal since the season before last. But here's why we like Chelsea's move. Spurs now have a great goalscorer in Roberto Soldado, and look one guy who would press the defense and provide good service away from being able to beat anybody. That guy would be Bale. But since they're most likely, we think, almost about to sell Bale to lands afar, the best player in the league would probably be Liverpool's Suárez, who was terrifying last year when surrounded by weak players, but also maybe frustrated and pushed to the point of biting other grown-ass men unprovoked. If you're Chelsea, or anyone but Liverpool, you don't want Suárez playing alongside any more creative players worthy of defensive attention than he already is. That's how renaissance happens.
In buying Willian, Chelsea are ensuring that they'll be at the top by the end of the year, because he'll make things easier for guys like Fernando Torres, Romelu Lukaku, Demba Ba, or someone better they bring in before the end of the transfer window. And just as important, they're making sure Liverpool and Spurs don't get the opportunity. And if José Mourinho gets to smirk and shrug and wag his cock a little bit upon his return to the Premier League, that's cool, too.
Photo Credit: Associated Press