Barely 24 hours after Chelsea were humiliated out of the Champions League, Willian has confirmed he will be leaving club this summer as the Brazilian calls an end to his seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge.
The attacker’s future has been in the balance for some time, with negotiations drawn out over the renewal of his contract, with the winger looking for a three-year deal amid interest from Londonrivals Arsenal.
And the 32-year-old has today confirmed that he will not play for the Blues next season, penning an emotional open letter to Chelsea fans on his Instagram account.
‘They were seven wonderful years,’ he wrote. ‘In August 2013 when I received the offer from Chelsea, I was convinced that this was where I had to play.
‘Today I am certain that it was the best of decisions. There were so many happy times, some sad, there were trophies and it was always very intense.
‘Yet, beyond the trophies, I learnt a lot about myself. I developed a great deal, becoming a better player and a better person.
‘With each training session, with each game, with every minute spent in the dressing room, I was always learning.
‘I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans for the affectionate way they welcomed me at Stamford Bridge and their support throughout my time at the club.
‘There was also criticism, which is normal, what is important though is that both the affection and criticism drove me to always give my all in every training session, every game, to be constantly improving until my very last minute in a Chelsea shirt!
‘The time has now come to move on. I am certainly going to miss my teammates. I will miss all the staff at the club who’ve always treated me like a son and I will miss the fans.
‘I leave with my head held high, safe in the knowledge that I won things here and always did my best in a Chelsea shirt!
‘My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you and God bless you!’
Willian’s Chelsea exit had been on the cards after it emerged that he had reportedly rejected a two-year extension, seeking a three-year contract with the club.
He was reportedly angered by the stance taken by Chelsea throughout negotiations, with director Marina Granovskaia offering a ‘take it or leave it’ rebuttal to Willian’s three-year deal demand.
Arsenal are said to be nearing agreeing terms over a £100,000-per-week deal with the Brazilian, who have committed to offering the three years demanded by the Premier League star, plus the option of a fourth year.
Sportsmail revealed that Willian may cost Arsenal up to £20.8million in total when his wages are taken into consideration.
Prior to Sunday’s news, Chelsea boss Frank Lampard insisted there would be no sense of ill-will with regards to the attacker in the event that he would seek pastures new.
‘I would have no feeling of disappointment if he does move on,’ he said before the defeat to Bayern Munich. I don’t have the answer, if he moves on I personally would wish him well. And that’s kind of where we’re at now.’
Willian joined Chelsea from Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee of approximately £30million in the summer of 2013.
During his seven-year spell at Stamford Bridge, Willian scored 63 goals and provided 62 assists across 339 outings for the Blues. He also lifted the FA Cup, EFL Cup and the Europa League as well as the Premier League twice.
In May 2016, he was named the Chelsea’s Fan’s Player of the Year and the Player’s Player of the 2015-16 campaign.
WILLIAN CHELSEA CAREER 2013-2020
– Premier League (2014-15, 2016-17)
– FA Cup (2017-18)
– EFL Cup (2014-15)
– Europa League (2018-19)