This summer may well mark the end of Willian’s career at Chelsea.
While he’s signed a short-term deal to complete the remainder of the season in blue, doubts remain over whether he’ll extend further – and he could walk away for free in pursuit of a new challenge.
However it turns out, he’s enjoyed a beautiful career at Stamford Bridge to date. While perhaps misunderstood, he remains one of the club’s longest-serving active players, and has enjoyed a wealth of wonderful moments with 60 goals and 59 assists.
Here’s a run down of Willian’s best moments at Chelsea.
39 days after signing for Chelsea, Willian made his Premier League debut against Norwich City. The Brazilian came off the bench in the 81st minute, with the score tied at 1-1 and a matter of minutes left to play at Carrow Road.
Eden Hazard soon put the Blues in front. Though not long after, the ball fell to Willian on the edge of the box, firing his first-time shot right into the top corner. A statement introduction to life in England.
One of Willian’s most iconic moments at the Bridge came in 2015, with a league clash against Everton heading for a goalless draw. Willian drilled a shot hard into the bottom corner, sealing the win with a minute left on the clock.
It was a massive three points for Chelsea, who went on to win their fifth league title that season. Willian played a key part in their title charge, playing 36 of the 38 league games.
Chelsea simply had to beat Porto to secure their spot in the Champions League knockout stages, in a massive European night in west London. An Iván Mercano own goal gave the Blues the advantage, but it was Willian who wrapped it up.
Hazard slipped the ball over to the Brazilian, who powered his shot hard and low beyond Iker Casillas to wrap up a 2-0 win, which saw the Blues go through as Group G winners.
Less than four weeks after his superb goal against Porto, Willian was back in the goals with an absolute stunner at Selhurst Park. Chelsea were 1-0 up against Crystal Palace thanks to Oscar’s strike, before Willian struck his first-time effort into the top corner to give them breathing space on the hour mark.
Diego Costa saw out the 3-0 victory, in a season where the club finished 10th in the Premier League. Willian was Chelsea’s only outstanding player that year, which was recognised when he was named the Players’ Player of the Year and the Fans’ Player of the Year.
Perhaps one of Willian’s best performances in blue came in the FA Cup semi-final against Tottenham. The rivalry was already prevalent after the Brazilian rejected a move to Spurs, giving birth to the iconic Stamford Bridge chant which claims, “he hates Tottenham”.
Willian scored a piercing free-kick in front of the Tottenham fans, before coolly tucking away a penalty past Hugo Lloris. Chelsea went on to win the match 4-2, but fell victim to fellow London rivals Arsenal in the final.
Chelsea looked to be heading to defeat when they went to Liverpool in 2017, as former Blue Mohamed Salah had put the hosts in front. But with five minutes on the clock and the game seemingly heading for a Liverpool victory, Willian came up with a piece of magic.
What originally looked like a cross turned into a delicate chip, fooling the Liverpool defence and helpless goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. It was a superb piece of skill from the Brazilian, earning Antonio Conte’s side a hard-fought draw.
This goal went on to win Chelsea’s goal of the season and the Premier League’s goal of the month, and it is easy to see why. The Blues were already 1-0 up against Brighton after three minutes, and in the sixth they really turned up the heat.
Hazard flicked the ball to Michy Batshuayi, and Batshuayi flicked it to Willian before he drilled the ball home. It was a truly stunning team goal finished off by the winger, en route to a rampant 4-0 victory at the AMEX Stadium.
Chelsea met Barcelona in the Champions League round of 16 in 2018, hosting the first leg at Stamford Bridge. With the game goalless and the ball once again falling to the feet of Willian, he controlled it, took a touch out and guided it into the bottom corner.
The celebrations and atmosphere around the Bridge was electric, jubilation across west London with a beautiful goal.
Lionel Messi struck to level it up though, before Barcelona cruised to a 3-0 win in the return fixture at the Camp Nou.
In what may well have been his final start against Tottenham, Willian will have bowed out in style. Making their first visit to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Brazilian scored a sumptuous goal into the bottom corner, before dispatching an ice cool penalty past Lloris. Sound familiar?
Willian’s brace was decisive, as Chelsea won 2-0 in an outstanding derby display. It was one of Willian’s many beautiful, emotional and thrilling goals for Chelsea, in what has been a wonderful seven years at Stamford Bridge.
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