Man Utd have held informal talks with Chelsea winger Willian’s representatives
Manchester United have held informal talks with Chelsea winger Willian’s representatives ahead of the summer transfer window.
The MEN understands the Brazilian’s representatives held preliminary discussions with United this month to gauge the possibility of concluding a deal, with the summer window opening on Thursday.
Jose Mourinho brought Willian, 29, to Chelsea in 2013 and attempted to re-sign the Brazil international in 2016, when he also made a similar approach to Willian’s then-Chelsea teammate Nemanja Matic. United touched base with Chelsea about Willian last year but were given short shrift and prioritised Internazionale’s Ivan Perisic.
Willian is contracted to Chelsea until 2020 but his age and the length of his deal mean his value will dwindle drastically next year. The former Shakhtar Donetsk player is represented by Kia Joorabchian, who United have not dealt with since Carlos Tevez left the club in 2009.
Although Mourinho has indicated he has no intention of making attacking additions this summer he is prepared to make an exception for Willian. The United attack is devoid of a right wing specialist, with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata more productive through the middle, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have struggled to perform there. Willian turns 30 in December and is viewed as an ideal option to bridge the gap between academy talent Tahith Chong graduating from the Under-23s into the first-team squad.
Mourinho has spoken effusively of Willian since he was sacked by Chelsea two-and-a-half years ago in a campaign that Willian was later voted the club’s player of the year. Willian’s commitment to Mourinho during those turbulent months cemented his trust and the Portuguese has twice attempted to re-sign him.
The United manager’s has targeted established late 20-somethings to sharpen United’s attack on the flanks amid frustration with the mercurial Martial. United failed to sign Perisic last summer but welcomed Alexis Sanchez in January and the pair both turned 29 this season, as did Willian. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, initially bought to strengthen United’s right flank, was 27 when he switched to United two years ago.
Mourinho’s preference last summer was to recruit Premier League-proven players, with Romelu Lukaku their principal number nine target ahead of Alvaro Morata and Tottenham’s Eric Dier was also courted, as well as Willian.
Mourinho hinted last month he would sign a Brazilian in the close season and United have shown interest in Juventus left-back Alex Sandro and are pushing to conclude a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.
“I think that a team without a Brazilian isn’t a team,” Mourinho said. “But also, a squad with three or four Brazilian athletes, depending on their profile, cannot make a great team too. I’m kidding!
“I think their talent is fantastic and the creativity of the Brazilian player cannot be measured. If a European team, like, very European, could have a Brazilian in their squad, it would bring a ‘Brazilian thing’ to the game and I think that’s very important.”
Matic told Mourinho he wanted to join United in March last year and agreed personal terms with the club in May but United had to wait until July 31 to complete the transfer. Chelsea signed Matic’s replacement Tiemoue Bakayoko on July 15 and any move for Willian could depend on the Stamford Bridge club acquiring a forward to offset his potential departure. Chelsea are also likely to change coaches in the summer, with Antonio Conte expected to be dismissed following the FA Cup final on May 19.
A drawback of Willian’s potential switch is he could miss United’s entire pre-season programme due to World Cup commitments with Brazil. Fred was also named in Tite’s 23-man squad on Monday but Sandro failed to make the cut. Mourinho is confident Willian’s Premier League experience would allow him to slot into the United squad as seamlessly as Matic did, despite a probable belated arrival.
Source :- MEN