Manchester United came up short in every competition in the 2017/18 season, and the time has come to reinforce an already talented squad for another go at silverware in 2018/19. One of the positional holes United fans want to see filled is the position of right winger. A popular rumor has linked Chelsea and Brazil winger Willian with a move to Old Trafford to reunite with José Mourinho, the man who brought him to Chelsea in the first place.
Though Willian is an excellent talent, and right winger is indeed a positional need for the Reds, United may be better off seeking other options, and for more reasons than one.
Willian Will Almost Certainly Be Overpriced
If Willian was to move to another English club Chelsea would be stingy and demanding when it came to naming a price. Chelsea don’t typically sell their first team players cheap, and Willian has more than proven himself in the Premier League. He’s scored 44 goals in 5 seasons at Chelsea, and has won the Premier League twice, FA Cup once, and League Cup once.
In addition to the difficulty of buying from league rivals, the price will also be affected by Chelsea’s failure to qualify for the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League. Chelsea also missed the competition in the 2016/17 season, meaning they’ll suffer a huge loss in TV money for the second time in 3 years. That may mean they’re more willing to sell players, but only at a price that would help match their losses.
Willian, who will be 30 in August, simply isn’t worth the price Chelsea are likely to demand (rumored to be around £60m). Anything over £20-30m could be better spent on a younger player, such as Christian Pulisic or Malcom.
Mourinho Needs to Break His Trend of Buying Older Players
If Manchester United want to continue to build a squad of young talent Willian would be a step backwards. Mourinho has a habit of bringing in older, but in form, players to compliment his “win now” style, but Manchester United are not a club like Chelsea where fans are satisfied with sacrificing the future for temporary success.
Mourinho was brought in to defy his legacy and restore long term consistency and silverware, and though he has won a couple trophies and finished second in the league he has still angered many fans with his squad selection. Instead of developing Marcus Rashford (20) and Anthony Martial (22) he opted instead to bring in Alexis Sánchez (29) mid-season. Even when faced with a challenge to play the talented wingers together in a lineup he ended up alienating Martial, who now seems set on leaving the club.
Willian Is 29, and will turn 30 by the start of the season. As was stated in the previous section, the winger is certainly a skilled player, but he will not have many years left at the top of his game. There are younger options that would better suit the culture of Manchester United. Like Diogo Dalot and Fred, a long term answer is what the fans and club want. It is of this writer’s opinion that Christian Pulisic would be an excellent addition to the current squad (See Previous Article), but there are other options still, including in-house products Jesse Lingard and young Angel Gomes.
The point is this: Bringing older players for short term success is anti-United.
Willian Is Not, and Will Not Be, a Game-Changer
As talented as Willian is, he has not been an instrumental player for club or country, and doesn’t look as though he will be as he enters his 30s. Yes, he is an excellent passer of the ball, he is quick on the counterattack, and he has the ability to score up to 10 goals a season, but United already have a plethora of attackers who do just that and they still aren’t raking in silverware. Lingard, Juan Mata, Martial, Alexis, and Rashford all do the same job Willian does.
Rather than adding another piece, it would be smarter to develop Lingard, Martial, and Rashford by actually giving them playing time. All three have shown the potential and ability to perform at the highest level and win important games for United. United need game winners and standout stars. They don’t need more attacking pieces, which is just what Willian is.
At Chelsea, Willian enjoyed spells of good football, and helped the Blues win a couple Premier League titles, but the inconsistency of the London side has shown the extremes of instability in management. They’ve been unable to string together consecutive successful seasons since the early 2010s, and even then the manager’s office had a revolving door. Resorting to the same old methods for win-now strategy will not save Mourinho. It has already alienated Martial, and therefore the fans. Willian simply isn’t worth the investment, and his production will not save Mourinho or bring silverware back to Old Trafford. If United are to spend upwards of £60m on a player this summer it had better be on someone like Romelu Lukaku who can carry the team and score goals in times of trouble.