Frank Lampard says Chelsea have done all they can to convince Willian to stay at the club as he edges closer to joining London rivals Arsenal.
The Brazilian is out of contract at Stamford Bridge once Chelsea’s season comes to an end, which could be after their Champions League tie against Bayern Munich tomorrow with the German champions 3-0 ahead on aggregate from the first leg.
Willian, who remains injured for the visit to Germany, rejected the offer of a two-year deal from Chelsea months ago, holding out for a three-year deal which never arrived.
With the acceptance that his seven-year stint in west London is coming to an end, the winger – who turns 32 on Sunday – is close to finalising a three-year contract with the Gunners, though Chelsea have tried their all to convince him to sign a new deal.
« He is injured and was injured for the cup final and tomorrow, he would have given everything to play in those games, » said Lampard. « I know Willian well, I have seen him and he has carried this injury a little bit in the latter part of restart.
« Certainly as a club we have done everything we can to explain to Willian. Mine and his relationship is really close, and I would have no feeling of disappointment if he did move on. I’ve played with him, coached him, he is a fantastic man and a fantastic player.
« I think he will feel like that about Chelsea, I’ll leave him to say his own words, but I don’t want anyone to find a negative attitude in this because the club have acted very well in this as well. I don’t have the answer, if he moves on, I personally would wish him well and that is kind of where are at now. »
Willian has brought a significant amount of experience to a young and developing Chelsea squad this season, with Lampard ushering through the likes of Callum Hudson-Odoi, Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham from the academy.
The Brazilian, who has made more than 300 appearances and won five major honours with the Blues, has been a vital component of Lampard’s squad.
« I think he leaves a hole as in a player who has been here seven seasons and performed and been part of successful teams, » said Lampard.
« When I came in this year and we had a lot of issues in terms of younger players, players back from loan – a transitional group – Willian was one you looked at and relied on in terms of experience and quality, he has shown me that all year.
« He has his own decisions to make and we as a club will always want to move forward no matter what. Eden Hazard left last year, the clubs continues.
« You try and continue in a forward direction, which I believe we have in many ways, that remains the same whatever player leaves the club. »
Teammate Antonio Rudiger added: « He is a man of himself and he makes the decision for himself.
« I don’t know the situation but if he goes that will be for us and me a huge loss because I think after the restart people could see that he is very important for us in the team. »
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Willian to Arsenal
Actu monde – NG – Willian to Arsenal: Chelsea have ‘done everything we can’ – Lampard