Should Willian Stay or Leave Chelsea?

After Chelsea’s back-to-back defeats at the hands of Manchester City and, their recent lost to Crystal Palace, the Blues fans have begun to ask questions about who, or what, is to blame. Certain players are coming under scrutiny as the reigning Champions need to find a quick response to their problems before the Premier League clash against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

One such player who fans are beginning to point finger to is Willian. The Brazilian winger showed a poor display against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park before being substituted after 65 minutes for youngster Charley Musonda.

A game to forget

Fans are quick to pick a scapegoat when their team loses. For Chelsea, this usually seems to be split between Gary Cahill, Marcos Alonso, or Willian. Granted, The Brazilian’s lackluster touch eventually led to Wilfried Zaha scoring Palace’s winner.

Willian lacked a creativity in game, and according to WhoScored.com, the Brazilian only managed 39 touches whilst contributing one key pass. To put that into perspective, both Thibaut Courtois and Julián Speroni managed more touches of the ball.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea player statistic (Credit: Whoscored.com)

However, it is not just the Eagles game that has seen Willian fail to really contribute to the Blues’ performances. The 29-year-old is yet to score a goal across all competition for the west London club and has only managed one assist in the Premier League. For a club whose aspirations of clinging onto their Premier League title are rapidly fading, Willian needs to start contributing more to help the team spread out the load and expectation currently on Eden Hazard‘s shoulders.

A case for patience

Following on from consecutive Premier League defeats, emotions were always bound to run high. But now is not the time for Chelsea fans to be calling for Willian’s head, either in the starting XI or come the January transfer window. Chelsea’s 2015-16 Player of the Year has always been very much a form player. When Willian’s off the boil, he can be frustrating to watch – consistent is giving the ball away and having no product – but when he gets back into the game, he is one of the trickiest customers in the league. No doubt, when the confidence returns, we will begin to see the best of the man from São Paulo again.

Crystal Palace v Chelsea Premier League

He may have to settle with a spell on the sidelines in Chelsea’s upcoming fixtures, with the likes of Hazard and Pedro expected to flank Alvaro Morata. However, this is nothing new for Willian, as during the title-winning season last year, he was often in and out of the team, nearly making an many appearances off the bench as he did from the Blues starting XI. Yet, the Brazilian’s desire, enthusiam and commitment were never questioned – and he often popped up with key contributions.

A lack of alternatives

Aside from Pedro and Hazard, Chelsea are not blessed with many other options to support Morata in Antonio Conte‘s front three. Should either of those get injured, Willian is likely to be guaranteed a starting role. Musonda is slowly laying his mark on the first team squad, but is still only 21 years of age and is not expected to bench either Willian or Pedro from the starting XI in any game against top sides.

Looking ahead to January, and if the Blues were to sell the Brazilian – they should expect a mouth-watering fee for him – then the replacements that would be considered an improvement on him would be the next on cards. Riyad Mahrez of Leicester City was consistently linked with Chelsea over the summer, yet has endured a miserable campaign thus far. Paris Saint-Germain‘s Angel Di Maria could another option, but the Argentina international failed to impress during his only Premier League campaign with Manchester United. Another player that would be an astute signing will be Marco Reus should he ever stay fit for more than ten games, whilst Antoine Griezmann doesn’t look to be leaving Atletico Madrid for any other club than Manchester United.

Following on from what many would consider a disappointing summer transfer window, the idea of signing an acquisition who would be an upgrade on Willian seem to be more or less non-existent. And whilst Willian may be out of form and out of luck at the moment, the Brazilian has shown previously that he can return from dodgy periods to be a key player, and should not be sold out just yet.

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About the Author

Bertrand Francois

Bertrand Francois is the editor of Football Weeks. An experienced online and print journalist, Jamie has worked for IRAIW, Arsenal Presser, Soccerlens and countless other media sources over the years. He is from Republic Du Benin and lives in the busiest town Cotonou. - Facebook and Twitter