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Chelsea move in to scupper Tottenham’s Willian deal

Aug 23, 2013, 8:11 AM EDT

FC Anzhi Makhachkala v FC Alania Vladikavkaz - Premier League Getty Images

With Brazilian midfielder Willian in London ahead of a proposed $45 million transfer to Tottenham Hotspur, everyone thought this one was pretty straightforward…

But hold on a minute.

Late on Thursday night, details of Chelsea launching an audacious last-minute bid for Anzhi Makhachkala Willian emerged. And this morning in his weekly press conference, José Mourinho has stated that Willian has picked Chelsea over Tottenham.

What a twist.

In a room somewhere in the InterContinental Hotel on Park Lane, Willian has been making a pretty hasty pro-con list between Spurs and Mourinho’s Chelsea. But he may not have a say in this as Chelsea have reportedly matched and perhaps bettered Spurs’ massive bid. So a move to the Blues looks set to happen.

(MORE: Tottenham closing in on $45 million Willian capture?)

Will the Blues really sneak in under Tottenham’s noses to grab the player many believe to be Gareth Bale‘s direct replacement?

I wouldn’t rule this one out. This is Mourinho and Chelsea we’re talking about. The club have proved over the last decade that if Chelsea want to sign a player, they make it happen, regardless of whether or not another London side and Premier League rival has all but sealed the deal.

This new twist leaves 25-year-old Willian in a tricky situation but ultimately he has no say in it. Chelsea’s Russian owner, Roman Abramovich, has apparently contacted Anzhi’s owner with the bid and Chelsea have been after Willian since 2012 when he played for Shakthar Donetsk.

Liverpool were also interested in the attacking midfielder, who can either play out on the left or through the middle, but Brendan Rodgers‘ men gave up the chase a long time ago.

Mourinho’s last-ditch attempt to snatch Willian from Tottenham’s grasp is an incredibly gutsy move. But that’s business, and this is business in the world’s most famous and lucrative league. Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas won’t be happy about it, not least because he was Mourinho’s assistant scout at Chelsea for several years and remains good friends with the Chelsea manager.

But there’s certainly no love lost in the race for Willian, and if Mourinho can nip in and grab the tricky Brazilian before his buddy AVB, then so be it. Do they need a new winger? With Eden Hazard, Oscar, Kevin de Bruyne, Victor Moses and many other international players already able to play out wide, it’s a bit of a strange one.

But obviously Mourinho sees it as an area he needs to improve following the solid, yet unspectacular wins against Hull City and Aston Villa to open the season.

There’s still 10 days until the transfer deadline arrives, but it will take some doing to top this saga.

  1. bigdinla - Aug 23, 2013 at 10:23 AM

    Russian mafia will make sure he goes to Chelsea!

  2. NtrlDipMOtl - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:48 PM

    AVB still mouh’s best scout haha in all seriousness,no club that’s drunk with international talent and involved in any given European competition can have enough depth.the competition for spots will be beneficial,all-around.i’m wondering why it’s willian,in this case,and not a top class striker.

  3. NowWaitJustAMinute - Aug 23, 2013 at 12:51 PM

    LFC gave up earlier this week when it was clear Anzhi accepted Spurs bid; how is that a “long time ago?”

    You are correct regarding Chelsea’s stockpile of wingers and attacking MF. Which begs these questions: Is someone now available? If so, who? My guess is Mata (along with lots of other people’s) or de Bruyne. Could prolly sell for more or less the same price Willian cost, ~30M GBP.

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:01 PM

      Umm, well, a week is a long time in soccer. We all know that.

      Anyway, I agree that a few players may now be available. Definitely not Juan Mata. Watched Mourinho’s press conference live this morning and he flat out rejected the idea of Mata leaving.

      But is that just another smokescreen from Mourinho? The “Special One” is famous for those.

      • NowWaitJustAMinute - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:52 PM

        Hasn’t been a week, about 3-4 days. Just lazy writing/research, and hardly qualifies as ‘a long time ago.’ But nice stretch, try not to hurt yourself. Besides it’s not a long time when the player never signed allowing a third club to swoop in.

        Either way, figure someone is on the move. Willian can play the pure 10 role; he’s not stricly a wide player. Believe he prefers wide. Mou expects all players to play defense, Mata has shown he doesn’t. Matter of cutting those who don’t buy in, if CFC wants to sell.

    • NtrlDipMOtl - Aug 23, 2013 at 1:08 PM

      I do believe willian plays STRICTLY as a left wing.getting rid of mata would mean they rid themselves of their primary 10.i am curious as to happens with the on-loan Marin.perhaps Moses and/or ba leave? Mourinho had to talk DeBruyne into trying to compete for a spot in the squad before pre-season.

  4. NtrlDipMOtl - Aug 23, 2013 at 6:29 PM

    Good point! Admittedly,my familiarity with willian is next to nil.just going off the commentary from the UCL games he played with S.Donetsk and Anzhi.i could see hazard and Mata’s defensive impotence being an issue for the Blues

  5. paperboy76 - Aug 23, 2013 at 7:02 PM

    On the contrary, AVB and Mourinho do not “remain good friends,” and have not been on good terms for years now.

  6. vfutebol - Aug 25, 2013 at 5:49 PM

    Great to read these interesting comments all-around. If I may correct the writer: Andre Villas Boas was NEVER Jose Mourinho’s assistant at Chelsea. Perhaps PORTO was the intended team?

    • Joe Prince-Wright - Aug 25, 2013 at 7:58 PM

      Believe his official title was “assistant scout” under Mourinho at Chelsea for three years.

      Although AVB did help out with plenty of coaching at the Cobham Training ground too. Guess his actual position wasn’t officially assistant manager, so have tweaked.

      Cheers for the comment, glad you enjoyed the opinion. This transfer is an intriguing one.

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