Player Profile - Willian

Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way

Personal information
Full name: Willian Borges da Silva
Date of birth: 9 August 1988
Age: 27
Place of birth: Ribeirao Pires, Brazil
Height: 1.75 m (5 ft 9 in) 
Playing position: Midfielder

Club information
Current team: Chelsea
Number: 22

Youth career
1998–2006: Corinthians

Senior career
2006–2007: Corinthians 41 Appearances, 2 goals
2007–2013: Shakhtar Donetsk 221 Appearances, 37 goals 
2013: Anzhi Makhachkala 17 Appearances, 1 goal
2013– Chelsea 108 Appearances, 13 goals  

National team
2007: Brazil U20 11 Appearances, 0 goals
2011– Brazil 32 Appearances, 6 goals 

In a struggling Chelsea team, Willian is proving to be that man this season. The Brazilian's stats aren't as impressive as Hazard's from 2014/15, but even Hazard's aren't. That's the reality Chelsea find themselves as they struggle across the board. As for Willian, he's proving to be the sort of player Mourinho needs right now. We can talk about Willian's energy and work rate, yet that's the lazy approach. Depending on your perspective, it's almost derogatory. Why? Because Willian is a player who gives Chelsea much more than a marathon man. His stamina and endeavour are assets not to be sniffed at, but they're far from the strongest aspects of his game.

WIN the Ultimate Fan Trip to watch Liverpool play Man United LIVE at Anfield!

This season, Willian has become a leader at Stamford Bridge. He's not done so by shouting or pointing fingers, but simply by the giving performances we've seen. In 16th place in the Premier League, Chelsea are struggling. Big time. Watch Willian, though, and you wouldn't know it. He's created more chances on average than he did last term, being fouled more by opponents who have wised up to the danger he poses whenever he's in possession. Not only that, defensively, Willian has proved more effective for Chelsea, winning more tackles on average every game than he did last term as well. Where others are failing, Willian is succeeding. He's doing it in an underperforming team, which is the most impressive part. Sure, it says much for Mourinho's men that we're praising the defensive capabilities of an attacking player. In terms of what Mourinho needs right now, however, Willian is proving ideal. 

On the international stage, Willian has been involved with the Brazilian national side at Under-17, Under-18 and Under-20 level, and featured in the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in 2007, when Brazil 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, earned soon after moving to west London, he scored his first goal for the Selecao in a 5-0 demolition of Honduras. Having been named in the World Cup squad Willian featured mainly from the bench early in the tournament. He missed a penalty in their Second Round shoot-out against Chile, although Brazil eventually came out on top. 

The Brazilian is as essential to this Chelsea team as the rest of its stars. He's not Eden Hazard or Cesc Fabregas, but that shouldn't fool us into disregarding what a big figure he has become at Stamford Bridge. If Hazard is the Ferrari in Chelsea's garage, Willian is the engine that drives it. Despite that £30 million price tag, the most exciting thing about Willian when he joined Chelsea was the fact he snubbed Tottenham Hotspur at the 11th hour to move to Stamford Bridge instead. That immediately won credit with Chelsea fans, and since then he's shown he has the substance to cut it in English football. Chelsea fans knew what they were getting when the Blues brought Willian to the club, after seeing him net twice in a virtuoso display for Shakhtar Donetsk at the Bridge in 2012. Willian is more industrious. He has plenty of ability with the ball; however, his biggest asset is his hard work on the flank for Chelsea, adding the graft that allows players such as Hazard to contribute the way they do. Without those like Willian, it would all fall apart. He has carved out a niche for himself at ‘the Bridge’. There isn't a player quite like him and the Mourinho knows it. Even those in the opposite dugout can't escape how important he has become.

Right now, Willian has taken over that mantle; he's become indispensable to Mourinho at a time when the manager needs him most. Comfortable operating in any of the three attacking midfield positions behind the main striker, Willian is quick, robust and creative in possession. As he has proved many times this season with his potent free-kicks, he also has an eye for the spectacular when it comes to the art of scoring. Because of all of the above, Willian's stock has risen. Indeed, he's indispensable.