Willian is a perfect signing for Arsenal, according to former Gunner Perry Groves, who believes the Chelsea winger would bring a huge boost to Mikel Arteta’s squad.
The Gunners are reportedly set to confirm the Brazilian forward’s free transfer to north London in the coming days after he failed to agree a new contract at Stamford Bridge.
Willian has spent seven years with the Blues, winning two Premier League titles, one FA Cup and the Europa League, but he wanted a new three-year contract to extend his stay – something Chelsea were reluctant to offer a player who turns 32 later this week.
He has been linked with moves to Barcelona and David Beckham’s new MLS franchise Inter Miami, but Arsenal are said to have swooped in to meet Willian’s terms.
The Gunners made a former offer to Willian on Wednesday, claim Sky Sports, and landing him now appears a formality.
Questions have been asked about handing a soon-to-be 32-year-old a three year contract, and also about the big wages he will command – especially given the mistakes Arsenal have made in the past with big-money deals.
But, speaking on Wednesday’s White and Sawyer show, Groves said it’s a great deal for a player who represents a big upgrade on those already in Mikel Arteta’s squad.
“It’s a no-brainer, an absolute no-brainer,” said former winger Groves, a two-time league champion with the Gunners.
“You say he’s 31, in my day that’s when you retired, but he could play until he’s 33 or 34 because modern players look after themselves.
“And if you look at his injury record, over the last seven years he’s averaged 33 or 34 games a season, so he’s not injury prone, he’s consistent, his attitude is very good and he’s proven in the Premier League, so the risk is low and the rewards could be very good.
“Is he better than what Arsenal have got at the moment in that position? I’d say yes. He’s experienced.”
That claim took host Sam Matterface by surprise, who questioned if Willian is better than Arsenal’s record signing, Nicolas Pepe?
But there was no hesitation from Perry: “Yeah!
“Pepe has got great potential but he’s not on Willian’s level of consistently delivering.
“Willian would make Arsenal a stronger team, it’s a no-brainer.”
Former England winger Trevor Sinclair agrees with Groves, saying Willian is an ‘elite athlete’ who ‘looks like an Arsenal player’ and seems tailor-made for Arteta’s style of play.
“I think he’s the real deal,” said the ex-West Ham and Man City ace.
“He’s ready-made, he’s an elite athlete, he very rarely gets injured, he’s 31 and he’s won everything in the game.
“For me, as a winger, I look at his explosive pace and if he decides to drop his shoulder, go on the outside and put a cross in, it’s almost impossible to defend that.
“If you’ve got players making good runs expecting that kind of cross into the box it’s very difficult to stop the forward getting on the end of it.
“I think he’s superb, he’s almost destined to be at Arsenal. He just seems to be an Arsenal-style player to me.”
“It’s also about his character,” added Groves, who says a player of Willian’s attitude and temperament is exactly what Arteta is looking to add to his squad of young pros.
“Is he going to cause the manager any problems?
“Willian seems like he doesn’t cause you problems off the pitch and Arteta is trying to change the work ethic, the culture of the club and he will buy into the way Arteta wants to play.
“Arteta will not take a player he doesn’t want, doesn’t think is exactly what he needs, and Willian is a winner, he’s got a winning mentality.”
Source: Originally posted in Transfers – talkSPORT