Reports on Saturday suggest that Barcelona have upped the ante in their bid to sign Chelsea’s attacking midfielder, Willian.
There’s been no suggestion whatsoever that the player is unsettled, with the Catalan club appearing to do all of the running.
A reported £55 million bid is on the table for the player with the ball now firmly in his and Chelsea’s court.
The west Londoners are undergoing a process of transition with Maurizio Sarri at the helm, and though he may not appreciate large-scale exits given that rumours continue to swirl around Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard, that’s big money to turn down for a player that will be 30 in just under three weeks.
Now that Paulinho has returned to China and it appears almost certain that Yerry Mina is on the way out of a club that he only joined in January, an ‘extra community’ place will be available for another foreign player to join.
Willian certainly covers all the bases too. Quick, sharp and dynamic, he has an eye for goal too, as he showed against Barcelona at Stamford Bridge last season.
With a natural flair for the game, and a seemingly endless ability to find space even in the most congested midfield areas, it is a signing that would appear to make sense, albeit there remain reservations about his age.
What makes the situation even more interesting is that there’s a Barcelona old boy crying out for a move back home.
Thiago Alcantara’s courtship of the club that gave him his entry point into professional football couldn’t be any more obvious if he tried.
Allowed to leave for a pittance and because he wanted minutes on the pitch, he’s now the polished article at 27 years of age.
In terms of adaptation, there’d be no issues with having him slot straight back into the team, which has to count for something. Though he’s stopped short of begging Barcelona to have him back, his intentions are crystal clear.
Three years younger than Willian also gives him an advantage there too.
The stumbling block to that particular move appears to be certain members of the Barça board who share ex-captain Xavi Hernandez’s view that any player who leaves the club shouldn’t be re-signed.
It’s a sentiment that is perhaps understandable but in a case such as this one, it’s akin to cutting their noses off to spite their faces.
Available, the right age, the right footballing profile… there literally isn’t a single reason why Thiago shouldn’t be bought.
Even if you take into account that he didn’t have the best season at Bayern Munich last season, it doesn’t make him a bad player. And he certainly isn’t a luxury either.
And yet, for all of the things he has in his favour, Willian is still the chosen one.
It’s not really in doubt that the Brazilian’s football intelligence will ensure as seamless a fit as possible should he move, and, much like Paulinho, the Camp Nou faithful will quickly take him to their hearts.
However, there’s no getting away from the fact that a move for Thiago simply makes more sense in every which way.
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