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Willian

BIOGRAPHY

The purchase of Willian was completed in late August 2013, the Brazilian signing a five-year contract on moving to England from Russian club Anzhi Makhachka

Chelsea fans knew what they were getting when the Blues brought Willian to the club, having seen him net twice in a virtuoso display for Shakhtar Donetsk at the Bridge in 2012.

His choice of Stamford Bridge, and not White Hart Lane, as had been expected, immediately endeared the likeable Brazilian to the club’s supporters, who had a song penned for him even before he made his debut for the club.

Comfortable operating in any of the attacking midfield positions behind the main striker, Willian is quick, robust and creative in possession. As his first couple of Chelsea goals proved, he also has an eye for the spectacular and he has emerged as one of the game's best set-piece specialists.

His direct free-kicks were a major feature of the 2015/16 season when he shone brightly in a gloomy campaign in general. It was no surprise when Willian was both the fans and his team-mates' choice for Chelsea Player of the Year.

In the Champions League game at Qarabag in November 2017, Willian made his 200th Chelsea appearance and marked the occasion by scoring two goals

photo of Milestone Milestone

Pre-Chelsea

Born on 9 August 1988, in Ribeirao Pires, Willian Borges da Silva played at Sao Paulo before moving to Corinthians at the age of nine.Having made his way through the Brazilian club's academy, Willian rose to prominence in 2005 at the prestigious Copa Sao Paulo de Futebol Junior tournament, which he won with Corinthians before being promoted to the first team shortly after.Having impressed potential suitors with his performances, Willian's stock continued to rise, culminating in a move to Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk in August 2007.Possessing trademark Brazilian skills, and with the guile and creativity to unlock tight defences, during his time at Shakhtar Willian won four league titles, three Ukrainian Cups, three Ukrainian Super Cups and, most memorably, the 2009 UEFA Cup, which was clinched with a 2-1 over Werder Bremen.Chelsea supporters will be familiar with the player after he scored twice at Stamford Bridge when we beat Shakhtar 3-2 in the group stages of the 2012/13 Champions League. He also impressed during our 2-1 defeat in the away game.Willian spent six years at Shakhtar before completing a switch to Anzhi in January 2013.

2013/14

Willian made his Chelsea debut in a Champions League home game against Basel in September 2013 and scored his first goal for the Blues the following month in a 3-1 win at Norwich City, bending in a sumptuous long-range effort with his left foot. It was nominated for the club’s Goal of the Season award.

Following a relatively quiet start to his Chelsea career, the Brazilian soon began to acclimatise to the pace and power of English football, emerging as a key member of the team that flourished so impressively over the Christmas and new year period.

He capped some fine individual performances towards the end of 2013 with his second goal for the club on the first day of 2014, another delightful strike from outside the box, this time in a 3-0 success at Southampton.

Throughout the second half of the campaign he continued to impress with his industry and skill, with further goals coming in wins against Stoke City and Liverpool. At the season’s end he earned a call-up to Luiz Felipe Scolari’s Brazil World Cup squad, testament to his good form at club level.

2014/15

Willian was regular in the side during a hugely successful campaign, playing as one of three attacking midfielders behind a single striker. His tenacity with and without the ball was evident throughout as his interchanges with the likes of Oscar, Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas flourished.

Willian scored his first goal of the season against Aston Villa and by the midway point of the season he had followed that up with strikes against Schalke in the Champions League and Watford in the FA Cup, but his most important came in February 2015 when he hammered home an 89th-minute winner against Everton (above) to keep the Blues on course for the league title. He played 36 Premier League games overall.

It was Willian's free-kick that lead to John Terry's opening goal as Chelsea also won the Capital One Cup by beating Spurs.

2015/16

As the Blues endured a difficult start to the title defence that ultimately cost Jose Mourinho his job as manager, Willian was one of the players who maintained his form from the previous year. Indeed he added a new potent string to his bow as he became the most dangerous free-kick taker in the country. His first six goals of the season, all netted before November, were from direct free-kicks, and he followed those up with some memorable strikes in open play, not least when he found the top corner in a heartening win at Crystal Palace at the turn of the year.

One of Willian's free-kick goals was during his 100th Chelsea game, away to Porto, and he was the joint-highest appearance maker in 2015/16 and second topscorer with 11 goals. At the campaign's end he collected the club's Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year awards.

2016/17

Willian signed a new four-year contract in July 2016 and hit the net in the second home game of the campaign, a win against Burnley. A more signifcant goal was a fine strike away at Hull at the beginning of October that heralded the team's return to form after a couple of defeats and disappointing performances in big games.

However for the Brazilian there was a break in his season following the passing of his mother, and Pedro was frequently the player selected with Diego Costa and Eden Hazard in the front three in the 13-game winning league run that completed the calendar year, but Willian came off the bench to put the team ahead in an important win at Man City, and he shone and scored twice in a New Year's Eve success over Stoke.

Prior to then he made his 100th Premier League appearance in a match at home to Liverpool in September 2016 and his 150th for Chelsea in all competitions at home to Spurs.

Towards the end of the campaign Willian scored twice, including a brilliant free-kick, in our FA Cup semi-final win over Tottenham, and came off the bench to put the seal on a very important away victory at Everton in the run-in to winning the Premier League.

Despite less playing time than previous years, his goal tally of 12 for the season was his best.

2017/18

No player featured more often for Chelsea than Willian, who played in 56 of our 59 games, though he will have wanted to have started more frequently - the switch to a 3-5-2 formation meant he was often reduced to a place on the bench. 

Despite this he netted 13 goals, his best return in Chelsea blue. He was especially electric during a purple patch in February and March, when he struck five times in five matches. Among those goals was a deserved effort against Barcelona - when he had already been denied twice by the woodwork - and a powerful finish at Old Trafford. 

Earlier in 2018, in a big win at Brighton, he emphatically finished off a flowing Chelsea move to net what would be named our Goal of the Season. By picking up that prize, he followed in the footsteps of his compatriots Oscar, Ramires and Juliano Belletti. 

International

On the junior international stage, Willian played for Brazil at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-20 level, and featured in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2007, when they were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Spain.

He made his Brazil senior debut on 10 November 2011 in a friendly match against Gabon, and after a spell out of the squad after earning just one more cap, he returned not long after joining Chelsea. On his fourth international appearance he scored his first goal for the Selecao in a 5-0 demolition of Honduras.

Having been named in the hosts' 2014 World Cup squad, Willian featured mainly from the bench early in the tournament.

After an impressive 2017/18 season for the Blues, he was named in the Brazil World Cup squad for the tournament in Russia and started every game as they reached the quarter-finals. Although Willian didn't score himself, he performed consistently throughout the competition on the right-hand side of an attacking trio. It was Willian who supplied the cross from which Neymar opened the scoring in their last-16 victory over Mexico.

He missed a penalty in their second round shoot-out against Chile (Brazil eventually coming on top) but did not feature again.

However the following two summers, 2015 and 2016, he was a mainstay of consecutive Copa America campaigns, with Brazil exiting at the quarter-finals and then the group stage.