A report in the print edition of Spanish newspaper Sport this morning [via Sport Witness] claimed that Liverpool are currently in negotiations with Chelsea winger Willian about a free transfer this summer, with the 31-year-old out of contract at Stamford Bridge in June.
However, a subsequent claim from Liverpool Echo journalist Ian Doyle on Twitter (via @IanDoyleSport) stated that the Reds are not considering a move for the Brazil international at this moment in time.
These contrasting claims open the validity of the transfer rumour to the discretion of readers, but would Willian actually be a smart coup for Liverpool? Let’s explore the topic further.
Why might Liverpool be interested in Willian?
The winger has accrued vast Premier League experience during seven seasons at Chelsea, making 226 appearances in the division (scoring 33 goals) and 329 appearances in total for the Blues, with a more than decent tally of 59 goals and 59 assists in his time at Stamford Bridge.
His trophy haul at Chelsea includes two Premier League titles and a Europa League triumph and, even though he turns 32 in August, he remains a key presence in Frank Lampard’s line-up, with seven goals and six assists from 37 games this season. With 21 Premier League starts and six in the Champions League this term, he is still playing regularly at a very high level of football.
His figures from this season hint at a player who gleefully takes on defenders and has a pop at goal, as well as picking out deft passes to create chances for team-mates. As per WhoScored, he has match averages of 1.9 shots, 1.8 key passes and 1.9 successful dribbles. His match averages for key passes and completed dribbles in the Champions League rise to 2.7 and four respectively.
Willian could be an astute right winger replacement for Xherdan Shaqiri at Liverpool
Willian plays mainly as a right winger, a position where there could be a vacancy at Anfield if, as tipped by the Liverpool Echo, the peripheral, injury-prone figure of Xherdan Shaqiri departs the Reds in the summer. The Swiss forward is currently the only natural right-sided alternative to Mohamed Salah in Jurgen Klopp’s squad, so the Liverpool manager may be keen to address this position if Shaqiri moves on. Indeed, such a move could well represent an upgrade from a Reds perspective – Shaqiri has managed only 0.7 shots, 0.5 key passes and 0.3 dribbles per game this season, figures which pale in comparison to the Chelsea ace.
Willian may be 32 by the end of the summer but the opportunity to secure on a free transfer an experienced Premier League-winning forward who is still producing the goods and playing regularly, and who could have a readymade squad role, is one that Liverpool should take. The Reds have had a lot of joy with ex-Chelsea forwards over the years, Salah and Daniel Sturridge being two prime examples, and the Brazilian winger looks like another man who could be an astute addition at Anfield.
Liverpool fans, do you think the Reds should try to sign Willian on a free transfer this summer? Comment below with your views!