Free agents are set to be in high demand this summer given the financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, with a host of leading Premier League stars set to be available for nothing in a few week’s time.
Player’s out-of-contract have arguably never been in a stronger position as clubs seek cost-efficient ways of strengthening ahead of the transfer window, and Chelsea’s Willian is believed to be amongst those to have already attracted plenty of interest.
Although the Brazilian has signed a short term contract extension to continue his seven season stay at Stamford Bridge until the end of the current campaign, the 31-year-old looks set to depart west London this summer, but which clubs are leading the race to sign the experienced winger?
So for those of you who like to follow the latest odds and visit the best online casino, here are the five favourites to sign Willian this summer…
Arsenal – 10/1
Arsenal’s resources ahead of the summer were reportedly limited even prior to the suspension of football, so Mikel Arteta will surely be seeking to find any low-cost options to improve his squad at the Emirates.
The Gunners have been tentatively linked with various upcoming free agents including Liverpool’s Adam Lallana and Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser, whilst the north London side are amongst the favourites to bring Willian across the capital.
The Brazil international would represent a low-risk and low-cost option for Arteta, whilst he would undoubtedly improve a squad with a distinct lack of depth in wide areas. Nicolas Pepe’s debut season has been one of adaptation, whilst leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also often been deployed out wide.
Willian’s happiness with life in England and desire to remain living in London makes a move to Arsenal viable, should the club be willing to offer the three-year contract the star is reportedly demanding.
Manchester Utd – 10/1
Manchester United registered an interest in signing Willian from Chelsea during Jose Mourinho’s reign at the club, and are regarded as 10/1 outsiders to renew their interest in the winger.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has largely deployed youngsters Daniel James or Mason Greenwood on the club’s right-wing during the current campaign, but could seek an experienced addition to his squad with the Norwegian having fielded the youngest team, on average, in the Premier League so far this season.
Much may depend on the club’s well-documented pursuit of Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, however, though the Red Devils could turn to Willian should a deal be unable to be agreed with the German outfit, Dortmund reportedly demanding a British-record fee for the England international.
Liverpool – 10/1
Could Liverpool launch a shock move to take Willian to Merseyside?
Despite conducting minimal business over the past year, Jurgen Klopp’s side are once again expected to be quiet in the market after withdrawing their interest in Chelsea-bound Timo Werner.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has led to the Reds taking a cautious approach to the market, though the possibility of landing a two-time Premier League winner on a free transfer may appeal.
Liverpool are set to lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita should next year’s mid-season Africa Cup of Nations go ahead as planned, which could lead to Klopp seeking some additional depth to his creative options.
That said, hopes remain high Takumi Minamino can make an impact following a period of adaptation, whilst Xherdan Shaqiri and Harry Wilson remain options for a place on the flanks should both players remain on Merseyside beyond the summer.
Barcelona – 6/1
Long-term admirers Barcelona are the second favourites to secure Willian’s signature this summer, the Spanish giants having seen several approaches for the South American rejected in previous windows.
Willian’s selfless and energetic style would seem suited to a switch to Catalonia, with the club considering their attacking options as a host of marquee signings – including Antoine Griezmann and Ousmane Dembele – struggle to produce their best football in the shadow of Lionel Messi.
The club’s priority reportedly remains a deal to bring Neymar back to the Camp Nou from Paris Saint-Germain, though any deal is likely to prove difficult in the current climate, the forward having cost the Parisians a world-record fee when heading in the opposite direction three years ago.
Tottenham – 11/5
Willian’s desire to remain in England’s capital and his relationship with former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has seen Spurs emerge as the outright favourites to sign the winger, the north London side believed to be strongly interested in securing the Brazilian on a free transfer.
Mourinho is keen to strengthen his options following a mixed beginning to his time at Tottenham, though finances are restricted following the coronavirus pandemic and recent move into their newly-built stadium.
Free transfers, loans and swap deals may be Spurs’ only way to add to their squad during the summer transfer window, and there are few players available who will appeal more than Willian.
The 31-year-old won the Premier League title under Mourinho five years ago and a reunion looks the most likely option as the star prepares to leave Chelsea this summer.