March 31st 2011: Willian linked with moves to Chelsea and Barcelona. Both Carlo Ancelotti and Pep Guardiola were reportedly keen to sign him after scoring twice in Shakhtar Donetsk’s 3-0 second leg success over Roma in the Champions League last 16 game.
April 13th 2011: “Willian would be perfect for Arsenal,” said Denilson (Arsenal player). “I know him well from the Brazil youth team and he had a real winning mentality then. I’ve heard Chelsea are interested, but his character could improve our team and his style would fit much better at Arsenal. We need match-winners at Arsenal and knowing what he does for Shakhtar and the national team I know he could do the same in England. He has great vision and ability and is one of the best creative players I have played with. I’ve spoken to him and told him that he could be a success with us.”
January 23rd 2012: “Willian is a very interesting player, but he is cup tied in the Champions League,” said Andre Villas-Boas (Chelsea manager). “I don’t think we should go for players who cannot be involved in all the competitions. We are not stressed regarding what we can do in this transfer window. If a good opportunity arises, we could study it, but at the moment, we are very satisfied.”
January 23rd 2012: “We have no burning desire to sell the player, but in football some things are impossible to avoid,” said Sergei Palkin (Shakhtar CEO). “If it weren’t for our good relationship with Chelsea – and Willian does not hide his intention to test himself in one of the best clubs in the English Premier League – we would insist on the £29m release clause written into the player’s contract. It is important to understand that we are talking about Chelsea’s desire to buy Willian, but not Shakhtar’s desire to sell him.”
January 24th 2012: “We have received a bid from Chelsea for Willian valued at €20million, but he is not for sale,” said Palkin.
January 26th 2012: “I wouldn’t have any fears about coming to England because I have played against English sides in the Champions League and studied the English game,” said Willian. “To play in a league that is seen throughout the world would be good for my hopes of playing regularly for Brazil, especially with the World Cup at home in two years’ time. That is my aim. I’ve worked hard for four years to establish myself in the national team. It has taken that long but now I feel I have a good relationship with the coach and I want to keep working hard, so I remain in the side. There are times when you look at your life and realise how lucky you’ve been. I’ve played for a great club in Corinthians and been successful. I moved to Shakhtar and that turned into a great move too. There was talk about Barcelona and Arsenal before but now Chelsea are interested. If the next step of the adventure is England, then I would be excited by that. I have friends in the Brazil side who play for Chelsea, like David and Ramires. All they talk about is the thrill of being in a city like London and playing for a club like Chelsea. I’ve known David since we played together in the Brazil Under-20 side and he talks about what Villas-Boas is trying to build at Chelsea. He and Ramires feel he wants a core of young players who can mature and grow together but also be successful. David says how the coach takes a real interest in all his players, how he can adapt different cultures together and bring the best out of them. Then obviously there is life in London. David and Ramires say there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world – it’s exciting and challenging at the same time.”
July 18th 2012: “I told Willian he can leave, but only if the right offer is made,” said Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu. “He’s a great player. Willian was the biggest investment Shakhtar have made in a young player, we have to respect that. He played only seven or eight games in Brazil. They paid a lot of money for Hazard but are not willing to pay for Willian, even though he’s better in my opinion. Chelsea want to buy Brazilian but made an offer for the eastern European market. They offered €34million but we don’t think that’s his current value.”
July 20th 2012: “I don’t know what the coach said, but the correct value was €25million,” said Willian. “But regardless of the value, of course I really wanted to play for a club like Chelsea, a club that won the Champions League. I’m really annoyed that the board didn’t let me go. It would have been good for me and for the club too. I’d play in a big league and would be able to grow as a player. This is not a message to anyone, everyone knows I want to leave. Chelsea had already reached an agreement regarding Oscar when they made that last offer to sign me. I’m sure it won’t be a problem as we are different kinds of players. He is more like a playmaker and I am more like an attacking midfielder. But it’s a matter of waiting. A lot can still happen.”
August 25th 2012: “I have the offer but it’s complicated because of the board,” said Willian. “Everyone knows that I want to leave. I’ve been here for five years, I’ve won many titles, so I hope they respect my will. I don’t regret having come here, but I regret what’s been going on with this situation. Chelsea tried to sign me, now Tottenham, so I have to rethink.”
August 27th 2012: Shakhtar Donetsk reject a £11.8million bid from Tottenham for Willian.
October 23rd 2012: “Willian was far away from Chelsea,” said Lucescu. “They didn’t even get anywhere near to our requirements, having done nothing to make my promises to Willian come true. Speaking specifically about the amounts, they officially offered the sum for which we had bought him young. I would really like them to highly appreciate his true value and realise that they made a big mistake.”
October 23rd 2012: “There were two offers in the summer,” Willian told Lancenet. “One from Chelsea and one from Tottenham. Choosing between the two clubs would be difficult. I don’t know. I mean, Tottenham is a big club and it has a good person in charge. Andre Villas-Boas wanted to bring me to Chelsea and also tried at Tottenham. He always sends me messages. We are always in touch, and he has become a friend, for sure. And Chelsea is Chelsea. They are a great team, with amazing players and are the champions of Europe. I would love to play for either of those clubs. But my mind remains at Shakhtar, and I’ll do my best to get the win against Chelsea. Everybody knows what my goal is. I’ve clearly stated that I would like to play in a bigger stage, whether it be England, Spain or Italy. I want to come back to the national team, and being in a bigger spotlight would help me get noticed.”
December 20th 2012: “My goal is to play for a bigger club in a high level league. If I tell you that I was happy, I would be lying. My desire was there, with a €25million (£20.3m) offer from a big club like Chelsea. I wanted to pack my things and go, but I can’t do that as I am under contract. It shows how much Shakhtar like me and shows that I am doing a good job, which is why they wanted me to stay. I have tried to convince them many times to let me go. I know that Juventus and Chelsea have made offers to buy me and that motivates me a lot. The club know that I want to leave, everyone knows that. The president has told me that he’ll let me go for €30million (£24.4m) and my intention is to sign for a big club.”
January 31st 2013: Willian signs for Anzhi Makhachkala for €35 million.
February 6th 2013: “Of course I thought about everything, I also took the Champions League into account, but it was the right moment to leave,” said Willian. “In the middle of the year it would make two years I would have been trying to leave without success. It’s indifferent for me that Shakhtar are in the round of 16 of the Champions League and Anzhi are in the Europa League. My objective was to leave from the front door and I think that happened. I don’t feel hurt by anybody.”
August 17th 2013: “There was the Manchester City bid that was turned down,” said Willian. “Now I’m waiting for a new bid to arrive in the next days from a few clubs, like Liverpool. If it’s really Liverpool, then it is surely a great club. I’m hopeful and very calm, just waiting for the best. England is my goal. I like the Premier League very much, I enjoy English football and certainly, if that happens, it will be very good for me and for my image.”
August 22nd 2013: Spurs agree £22m deal for Willian and he passes a medical with the club.
August 23rd: Chelsea also have a bid accepted for Willian.
August 23rd 2013: “I think he’s already made his decision,” said Jose Mourinho. “I don’t like to speak before time because football can be crazy. I know what the player wants, so in this moment we cannot hide. That is a possibility. You have to do the medical before, but the best thing to do is to do the medical in secret. If the player is fine, you can sign him.”