Chelsea’s Brazilian international Willian is pushing for a departure from Stamford Bridge this summer. The former Shakhtar Donetsk forward, who has spent five years with the London club after joining the club in 2013, has been a target for Manchester United since the season’s conclusion, but according to a report in Spanish outlet Mundo Deportivo, Willian is holding out for a move to Barcelona, and has instructed his agent Kia Joorabchian to push the deal through. Chelsea are holding out for €80m for the player, a fee that the reigning La Liga champions do not wish to meet at present.
United’s involvement with Willian appeared to stem from Jose Mourinho’s distrust of Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford as back-up and alternatives to Romelu Lukaku or Alexis Sanchez. The Belgian and Chilean have started the vast majority of games together in United’s attack since the latter joined the club in January from Arsenal, and Mourinho has publicly criticised both Martial and Rashford for not taking their opportunities. The Frenchman’s agent openly declared that his client was looking to leave Old Trafford this summer, presumably having grown disillusioned with life under the Portuguese manager, but as of yet, no concrete news of an offer from another European club has come forth. That might have something to do with the prohibitive price tag that United have slapped on the player, which is reported to be around £70m.
Should Martial leave, then the expectation is that Mourinho would pursue a deal for Willian, given that the Brazilian fits his preferred profile, namely in age (29) and experience. Whether United’s hierarchy would go for that is another story, given the club’s reluctance to pay over-the-odds for Ivan Perisic last summer when the Inter Milan winger was available for around €50m. That also assumes that Chelsea would welcome a deal, given that the London club also sold Nemanja Matic to United a year ago, and would be loathe to lose another key player to a Premier League club this summer, let alone to United again.