As the Premier League season enters it’s final week, attention starts to shift to the future of players at their clubs.
We’ve already seen several players leave, when their contracts expired on June 30th despite the season continuing well past that date. But now the players who did agree to extend their contract for the extra month of play are back at a crossroads once again with their clubs.
One of those players, and arguably the most high profile case, is Willian at Chelsea.
The Brazilian winger was signed for £30million back in 2013 and has been a regular in the team ever since under several managers. That has continued under Frank Lampard this season but now 32 years old, he’s approaching the twilight of his career.
That has left Chelsea with a dilemma. They have reportedly made an offer to Willian to extend his contract by two-years, with the expectation that he will begin to be fazed out of the starting line-up thanks to the signing of Hakim Ziyech and emergence of Callum Hudson-Odoi. According to several reports though, Willian has made it clear that he won’t extend for anything less than a three-year deal.
Some have looked at these demands as reasonable. The player has shown great loyalty over the years, staying at Stamford Bridge when the Blues dropped out of Europe and reportedly rejecting interest from the likes of Barcelona. He extended his contract for the post-lockdown period to help the club and has performed admirably since. Wanting an extra year on a new deal that will likely see him through to retirement, or very close to, isn’t the craziest of demands.
But Chelsea would be crazy to give in to those demands. Considering the fact the club have let it get to this point to begin with, they obviously aren’t keen on keeping him around for too much longer. With Pedro already confirmed to be joining Roma at the end of his contract, Willian could follow him out of the door and Chelsea would still be covered in those positions. The signings of Ziyech and Timo Werner, plus the growing presence of Christian Pulisic in the side along with Hudson-Odoi mean they have plenty of depth. They’re also reportedly the keenest of many sides in Europe for attacking midfielder Kai Havertz.
Willian is one of Chelsea’s highest earners and he’s unlikely to be taking a pay-cut to stay at the club to not play much. Logic would tell me he’ll be on very similar terms to what he is on currently and for three years that would definitely prove excessive considering how his standing in the squad will change.
His experience would however prove a big help for a Blues side being influxed with young talent, and his mentality from winning several trophies would of course be a positive influence. But eventually, he’ll want to play. Lampard would either have to deal with an unhappy player on huge amounts of money at the club, or be forced to play him when he doesn’t really want to.
Overall, if Willian isn’t willing to agree to Chelsea’s terms they should let him go. Don’t fold to his demands and let him get the big payday he wants elsewhere. The likelihood is that he won’t hurt them too much if he was to stay in England, while going abroad would see him out of the way for Chelsea anyway.