Willian has reflected on the “difficult” decision to swap Chelsea for Arsenal in the summer in an honest interview about his summer move.
The Brazilian winger had spent seven years at Stamford Bridge, before making the switch across London at the end of the 2019-20 season.
Willian left Chelsea as a free agent after failing to reach an agreement with them over a new contract. He was holding out for a three-year deal, but Chelsea only offered him two.
Ultimately, a three-year offer came from London rivals Arsenal. Willian accepted their terms and was expected to have a decent impact at the Emirates Stadium.
He made a positive impression on his debut, but has struggled for consistency since. The 32-year-old is yet to score for his new club.
Now, he has explained in further detail why he joined them last summer – even though he admits he would have preferred to stay at Chelsea.
“It was difficult to make that decision, it wasn’t easy,” Willian told UOL (as translated by Sport Witness). “Because, as you said, the rivalry between the two clubs is very big.
“It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Chelsea for Arsenal. It was well thought out, a thoughtful decision, talking to my wife and even the agent many times.
“And one of the things that made me decide to go to Arsenal was really the various conversations I had with Mikel Arteta, with Edu too.
Willian's 19/20 season stats
Take a look at Willian's stats for his 19/20 season with Chelsea.
“They convinced me to go there, that it’d be a really cool project, that it’d be really good for me to be able to go there. That I’d be a very important player in the squad. That they wanted to change the philosophy of the club, to make it possible for Arsenal to fight again in the Premier League, to play in the Champions League again.
“So there were several conversations I had, several conversations that ended up pleasing me. So that’s why I ended up making this decision. But it really wasn’t easy to make that decision, it had to be well thought out.”
Willian denies backlash over move
His choice of next club may have prompted some anger from Chelsea fans, but Willian insisted that most should understand his situation.
“Look, I think some fans asked this question,” he said of backlash from his former fans upon joining their rivals. “But the majority understood because I didn’t leave the club with a fight, I left the doors open.
“Everyone knew the conditions, I really wanted to stay. We ended up not finding an agreement.
“I ended up asking for three years, Chelsea wanted to give two, and everyone knows this story. That’s why I ended up leaving.”