Willian has revealed a crucial element in his decision to join Arsenal was Mikel Arteta’s ambitions to win the Champions League.
The Gunners have not been in the competition for the last three years and will again be involved in the Europa League next season.
Arteta would therefore have to win that trophy outright or lead his team to a dramatic improvement on their eighth-place finish this season to qualify.
However Willian says he was sold by Arteta’s vision for the club which convinced him a switch to The Emirates was the right move.
In an interview with The Sun, Willian said: “One of the reasons I wanted a three-year deal was to be part of a plan, not just a player passing through.
“When I talked with the manager he told me why he needed me for three years.
“It was that he first wanted to qualify for the Champions League and win it by the time I left. That was what I wanted to hear.”
The Brazilian’s comments may seem a contradiction when you consider he has left behind a Chelsea team who will be competing in the Champions League next season and look better placed to win it before Arsenal at present.
He did admit though that despite Frank Lampard’s best efforts to keep him, the rumours around his exit were true.
Chelsea were not willing to offer the 32-year-old a contract of the same length as Arsenal due to his age, which prompted Willian’s departure.
Concerns over the forward’s fitness and longevity are perhaps understandable but Willian showed no signs of slowing down last season.
He made a total of 47 appearances, 37 of which were in the starting lineup and says his advancing years are “not a problem” as he looks to play on beyond his 35th birthday.
The arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and potentially Kai Havertz would no doubt have reduced his chances of playing regularly at Stamford Bridge though, whereas at Arsenal he is set to play a pivotal role.
Arteta’s appointment has certainly given Arsenal a boost in the right direction, which will be helped further by the expected resolution of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract situation.
Willian is confident with the help of his teammates he can achieve “great things”.
Time will tell.