Willian signing is a tactical masterpiece from Mikel Arteta
Arsenal signed Brazilian playmaker Willian from cross town rivals Chelsea on Friday bolstering the attacking setup for the upcoming 2020-21 season.
The 32 year old Willian is Mikel Arteta's first signing for the new season and somewhat unusual given that the former Chelsea player suited up at Stamford Bridge for seven years before deciding to travel to North London as a free agent. The former Shaktar Donetsk star was also wanted by FC Barcelona and Inter Miami but chose to stay in London to continue his career.
Signing Willian has created a lot of debate as to whether Arsenal have replaced their traditional transfer policy of signing and nurturing younger players with a somewhat conservative one of bringing in tried and tested experienced players.
Willian certainly fits the bill of an experienced star who will undoubtedly increase Arteta's attacking options. Capped 70 times by the Brazilian national team, Willian's versatility and experience of the Premier League would surely give Arsenal the means to find back its somewhat lost creativity touch on the field.
Since Mikel Arteta's arrival at the Emirates dug out at the end of last year, the Spaniard has inculcated an environment of healthy competition, hard work and tactical ingenuity to safely pull through a sinking ship that Arsenal was slowly turning into under fellow Spaniard Unai Emery.
Signing the creative Brazilian is the first signal that the former Manchester City assistant manager wants to take the club to the next level.
Arsenal's creativity statistics for the last season speak volumes of why the club desperately wanted to sign an attacking Premier League player. The Gunners stood 13th for chances created and a meagre 16th for shots taken among the Premier League rivals over the course of the whole of last season.
Despite winning the FA Cup at a deserted Wembley against Willian's former employers Chelsea at the start of the month, the club and Arteta in particular need to look into the very aspect of strengthening the attacking midfield and defence areas.
Tying down club captain and stalwart Pierre Emerick Aubameyang to a new deal would feel like a brand new signing but there has to be someone who will put the balls into the Gabonese striker's path and the Gunners feel Willian is that player who will create those chances that would make the club fearsome in front of the opposition goal once again.
The former Chelsea player comes in with a good pedigree having won two premier league titles, one FA Cup and a Europa League during his seven year stay at Stamford Bridge scoring 37 goals in 234 appearances.
The player's versatility allows Arteta to use his tactical skills further. With Mesut Ozil frozen out and set to leave the Emirates, Willian could be employed in a central role to assist Aubameyang and Lacazette to great effects.
Willian scored four goals for Chelsea since the Premier League restarted after the Covid-19 lockdown and looked in fine form. So Arsenal are bringing in an in form player and not a club outcast and he will fit straight into the fold when the Gunners start their new season with the Community Shield clash against the Premier League champions Liverpool on August 29.
Arsenal's record signing Nicolas Pepe has struggled in his first season at the Emirates failing to showcase his immense talent on a consistent level. The clear cut strategy of bringing in Willian is to give a no nonsense signal and competition to the Ivory Coast international to improve his consistency on the right hand side of the pitch.
The Brazilian is used to operating efficiently in three or four different positions of the midfield. The former Arsenal captain is using the same tactics that are followed at Manchester City to improve the performance level that he so closely learned under the able tutelage of Pep Guardiola.
“I believe he’s a player that can really make a difference for us,” Arteta said.
“He has the experience of everything in the football world, but to still have the ambition to come here and contribute to bring the club where it belongs. I have been really impressed with all the talks I have had with him and how much he wanted to come," the Spaniard continued.
Former defender and Arsenal legend Martin Keown feels that the Brazilian is a better option compared to Barcelona's Philippe Coutinho who was also linked with a move to Arsenal.
“Coutinho has been linked with virtually everybody and seems, if I am honest, a bit unsettled," former Gunners defender Keown told The Mirror.
“I think Willian is a safer bet. He's in the capital, he knows the Premier League very well and he's a top performer. I think it's a huge loss for Chelsea," Keown added.
Willian's statistics for the last season show exactly why Arteta and technical director Edu wanted to bring him desperately in North London. The creative playmaker scored nine goals in 47 appearances for Chelsea last season. He was seventh in the 'chances created' Premier league individual ranking with 76 chances and stood at 11th with seventh assists overall. It will be of no surprise if the 32 year old is thrown straight into the fold by Arteta when the new season resumes.
For Willian, though, the move to Arsenal provides him with a great opportunity to move from the shadows of Chelsea's Christian Pulisic and new arrival Timo Werner and use his immense Premier League experience and skill to help his new team in the long term.
This three year deal gives him one last shot to play at his prime for one of the world's top clubs at the very highest level. Arteta will be able to utilize the Brazilian's dead ball skills in critical match situations.
Arsenal's rich young talent pool will be able to learn immensely from a player of such skill just as David Luiz used his leadership skills to motivate the youngsters during Arsenal's low moments during the course of the last season. More importantly Willian fits perfectly with Arteta's principles of hard work and tenacity.
Featured image credits: Arsenal.com