Why Chelsea Are Being Tactical, Not Spiteful to Tottenham, By Signing Willian

It’s a pleasure to see The Special One return to the Premier League. His antics provide the media with so much fodder to digest, swoon over and replay over and over again. Not to be undersold, however, are his transfer tactics.

It seemed as though the Gareth Bale transfer saga was finally coming to a close as Real Madrid were close to unveiling the Welsh winger as their latest addition. But Jose being Jose, he swooped in at the last minute and put in a bid for the Brazilian winger Willian, who was presumably Bale’s replacement. Upon first glance, this appears to be a move simply to spite Tottenham, Chelsea’s North London rival. After all, Chelsea have tons of talent in their attacking midfield — Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, Oscar, Victor Moses, Kevin de Bruyne, Andre Schurrle. Surely that’s enough, no?

Despite seeming like a spiteful move, I would argue that signing Willian is a smart tactical move by Chelsea.

We saw last season how Chelsea’s fixtures piled up between the league, FA Cup, League Cup, FIFA Club World Cup, Champions League and the Europa League. Squad rotation was a vital part of why Chelsea finished third in the table, making it to the semifinals of the FA Cup and League Cup, and winning the Europa League trophy. Granted, squad rotation is a staple of Rafa Benitez’s management style, and would be expected under a Chelsea squad managed by him. Mourinho may not have the same reputation and identity as a rotator, but as smart of a manager as he is, he will no doubt use rotation to his advantage to help Chelsea win trophies, and WIllian can be a key part of that.

Willian would equip Chelsea with a clear pair of options at every position in the attacking midfield. Ideally, this would feature Eden Hazard and Juan Mata rotating on the left side, Andre Schurrle and Kevin de Bruyne in the center, and Victor Moses and Willian on the right hand side.

Now before Chelsea supporters crucify me for not mentioning Oscar, let me assure you that his dynamism affords him his own section. Oscar is undeniably effective in the final third of the pitch, both as a scorer as well as a facilitator and chance creator. But Oscar has a history of being a workhorse in the defensive third of the pitch, tracking far back to break up play, making effective tackles and winning the ball. Oscar could really benefit the squad by playing as a holding midfielder, as he effectively already plays that role. Plus, at times when Chelsea look to dominate and bring the game to the opposition, his attacking impetus could be put to work when he pushes up the pitch. That is to say, he provides a degree of creativity greater than any of Chelsea’s other holding midfielders, and his skill could afford Mourinho the freedom to play the more purely attacking midfielders in the final third.

Of course this is all hypothetical, and it may still be that with the incredible sum Spurs get for Gareth Bale, they can outbid Chelsea (or bid more desperately than Chelsea) for Willian. But maybe, just maybe, Chelsea’s £32million bid for Willian (which is rumored to have been accepted by Anzhi) is more of a tactical one than a spiteful one.

24 thoughts on “Why Chelsea Are Being Tactical, Not Spiteful to Tottenham, By Signing Willian”

    1. yeah, that’s a fair point, and while I partially apologize for that, this article was also meant to be directed toward the attacking midfield, and to my knowledge, everyone you mentioned is going to be playing as a holding midfielder. Good point though.


  1. Willian is NOT Bales replacement, if anything Lamela is, Willian is an Anzhi fire sale product…a nice to have…if he plays for spurs or sits on a bench for the chav’s thats fine, whatever works. He moved to Anzhi for cash, he’ll go where the cash is.

    He has more chance of making the brazil national team with Spurs than with the chav’s, more game time.

    It’s a shame that when they close this window they will not close it for good!

    Roll on september 2nd

    1. I thought Spurs were loaded with cash. Oh I forgot they will not be getting any cash regardless if Bale deal happens or not just bunch of IOUs. On the other hand buying players from Brazil or Eastern Europe requires hard cold cash.

    2. He moved to Anzhi because that’s the only bid Shaktar would accept. Chelsea has bid for Willian several times since 2011.

      1. Willian moved to Anzhi because neither Chelsea nor Spurs would pay £23M Shakhtar wanted for him. Also Levy didn’t want to pay cash upfront and tried to negotiate installment payments. He was quickly reminded that Shakhtar only deal with serious people and wonkers are not welcome in Donetsk.

        Ironically, after not so stellar season at Anzhi and with the club desperate to sell he is now valued at £30M+.

  2. They’re doing what teams have done for years, sign a player to stop a close opponent from becoming stronger.
    Mourinho did it in his first stint at Chelsea, bought up players that teams positioned around them were bidding for.

    1. Close opponent? Which Chelsea triumph in the last ten years were Spurs a “close opponent” in? Chelsea’s three League titles? The Champions League? The four FA Cups? The Europa League title?
      I recall Spurs might have provided some slight opposition in the Carling Cup. Well done! Tottenham’s “close opponents” are the likes of Everton, Newcastle and Swansea. Know your place.

      1. You do recall that Spurs finished 5 points ahead of Chelsea in 2011-2012, and finished just 3 points behind in 2012-2013. In my mind, that would qualify as close opponent.

      2. Sir Cecil, that is so adorable that you picked up supporting Chelsea after receiving a copy of FIFA 13. Don’t worry, a bunch of other plastics bought Chelsea kits after they won the Champions League in 2012.

        So you know, there is a whole bunch of history that takes place between Chelsea winning silverware.

      3. Chelsea finished outside the top 4, 2 seasons ago and were pushed close last year for most of the season. Spurs will be close competition for that top 4 spot.

        1. Spurs are always “close”.
          They were close to getting Willian.
          And close to keeping Bale.
          They were close to qualifying for the Champions League.
          And as you say, they’ll be “close” again. For sure.

  3. What a nonsense. Chelsea has enquired and/or bid for Willian in every transfer window since 2011. The team trying to muscle-in was Tottenham, with their manager, AVB, aware of Chelsea’s efforts for Willian through his own time at Stamford Bridge. The still-bitter AVB thought it would be a nice personal triumph to steal Willian from Chelsea, but all he’s ended up is a loser. Again.

    1. Not true. Chelsea only went after him when AVB was in charge. Chelsea have monitored him ever since but never made a bid when Di Mateo or Benitez were managers.

      1. Inaccurate. AVB had no say in it, apart from to commend his Chelsea technical director, Emenalo, for continuing his on-going quest to get Willian.

  4. Jose has done a geat job.money is power and if you dnt have enough money then stay away from the business.willian will be an important addition to chelsea squad.blue is the colour.haters are you there.hahahaha

    1. I look forward immensely to seeing this fine player perform for Chelsea. But it does sadden me that a fellow London team, Tottenham, has been made to look so foolish. We should all want the best for our neighbors. Sadly though, even my very best wishes never seem to make Spurs any less of a laughing stock. I’ll pray extra hard tonight for an upswing in their fortunes.

  5. much ado …I agree with Jonathon Wilson, Willian has skill and value but I thought 30 mil was too high- so he goes and we move forward and frankly Lamela was my preference and I kind of like what we have already brought in a lot, don’t forget Townshend is nothing to sneeze at- don’t worry haters Spurs are fine

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