Willian Borges da Silva, or as most of the world knows him, just plain Willian. That is not to say that there is anything plain about this wonderfully gifted Brazilian.
This is a player that, in his first season, has had commentary teams across the board gushing with all the superlatives and clichés available to them. Pardon me if I use a few myself but it truly is an almost impossible task to write about this guy without being guilty of falling into that trap.
The 25 year old midfielder came through the ranks at Corinthians and spent one season there before moving on to Ukraine. It was whilst at Shakhtar Donetsk that he made his name and learned that hard work and industry is as equally as important as talent and flair.
He moved briefly to one of football’s strangest and unlikely projects Anzhi Makhachkala but with their “financial restructuring” came an opportunity to test himself at one of Europe’s big boys. How different Tottenham’s season could have been if after passing a medical at White Hart Lane the Brazilian star had actually put pen to paper. Football is full of what ifs? But if his form for Spurs had matched that at Chelsea it is safe to say AVB may still be in charge at the lane.
Tottenham’s loss however is very much Chelsea’s gain. Brazilians of old were never famed for their hard work off the ball, more their flair with it at their feet. A new generation has emerged however that has moved with the times and Chelsea has another couple of midfield enforcer from the country in the shape of Ramires and David Luiz. Willian seems to be made in the mould of José Mourinho’s perfect player. He has the discipline the other two sometimes lack. His fitness levels are incredible. He covers as much ground on the pitch as Wayne Rooney without the plaudits the Englishman gets for doing so. He has a decent turn of pace and has plenty of ability to both beat a man and score goals, although his boss has asked him to step up his goal tally. At this moment in time the only criticism José has of the Brazilian maestro is that he is a scorer of great goals as opposed to being a great goal scorer. He can play either side of an attacking three, as a number ten or even either side of a three man central midfield. So that’s versatility checked off the list as well.
Heat maps and touch maps are TV punditry’s new in thing and Willian’s in nearly every match he’s played this season, is a sight to behold, especially if your nickname happens to be “the special one”. Gary Neville has on various different platforms this year told us of how the very best teams get the most out of their most talented players, especially in terms of tracking back and working hard for the team when out of possession. Willian has shown ability in abundance going forward and back this year, all the more impressive when you take into consideration that this is his first year in English football. If Mourinho gets his wish and by next season Willian is scoring more freely, then he will surely rival Hazard for the title of Chelsea’s next superstar.
Whilst Mourinho might publicly state that his side have no chance of winning the Premier League title, if Chelsea do it will be in no small part due to the fact that the Brazilian has taken the league by storm. There are very few teams in world football that wouldn’t be improved by his presence in their ranks.
With a world cup not far from now in the country of his birth and the domestic season coming to a close with Chelsea in a strong position, 2014 could be a very special year for Willian Borges da Silva.