Jose Mourinho has admitted Arsenal beat Tottenham to the signing of Willian this summer as they could not rival the wages the Gunners were offering to the Brazilian.
Mourinho and Willian worked together at Stamford Bridge for several seasons. A reunion was strongly tipped this summer once it became clear the winger would leave Chelsea.
Willian, 32, instead signed for Arsenal, penning a three-year deal worth an estimated £130,000 a week. The player has endured a slow start to life at the Emirates, admitting Mikel Arteta’s methods have been tough to learn.
However, he is still expected to feature in Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham.
Mourinho though knows what the player is about and reckons he can cause Tottenham damage if they’re not careful.
“We don’t have money for Willian,” Mourinho said. “We cannot pay the wages that he gets at Arsenal so I didn’t want to waste our time because we cannot pay these wages.
“He is still dangerous, he is still one of the best players in the Premier League.
“Apart from that, he is a good friend. I have nothing to hide in relation to that. We keep in touch, we keep in contact, we call each other.
“We wish good things to each other. He is my friend and of course he is a very good player.”
Mourinho says the feeling at Tottenham ahead of this derby compared to the meeting in July is very different.
When Toby Alderweireld’s 81st-minute header sealed a 2-1 victory over Arsenal during the summer, both clubs were languishing in mid-table.
This time around Spurs are top of the Premier League and unbeaten in the division since the opening day.
“It is a little bit different because we want the points and we are not just like. We want to beat Arsenal because to beat Arsenal is the only good thing we can give to our fans,” Mourinho added.
“It happened last season when we played Arsenal in the last part of the season. It was about winning against Arsenal to give something good, to have a good feeling.
“In this moment, we also look to the table and we are in a good position. We’re fighting for positions in the top part of the table.
“But we never forget the fact that there are historical rivalries and what it means for the fans.
“Even for people that were not born at Tottenham, and many of us are in this situation, when you arrive at the club you understand the culture. You learn the culture and you share the values with the fans.”
Harry Kane, Sergio Reguilon should be fit
Harry Kane knows what this fixture means more than most having progressed from Spurs’ academy. After a brief stint with Arsenal originally, he has scored 10 times against the Gunners.
An unspecified injury saw the striker ruled out of Thursday’s 3-3 draw with LASK.
But he is set to return on Sunday and there is positive news on Sergio Reguilon as well.
“He had a little problem,” Mourinho said of Reguilon. “He was not available. It was not like I wanted to protect him. He had a problem but it’s the kind of problem that I can say I expect him to play.”