Arsenal have officially announced the arrival of Willian. The Chelsea winger joins the club on a free transfer, having seen out his contract at Stamford Bridge at the end of this past season. He becomes the third summer signing for the Gunners after Cedric Soares and Pablo Mari’s loan moves were made permanent earlier in the year. In this article, we will discuss what the addition of Willian could mean for Arsenal.
Mesut Ozil to leave?
Any Arsenal follower will know that creativity has been a problem for the club. There has been a lack of creative essence in the final third ever since the departure of Aaron Ramsey. The massive decline of Mesut Ozil hasn’t helped either, forcing Mikel Arteta to rely on individuals like Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe.
It is, therefore, reasonable to assume that Willian has been brought in to fill the void in the creative department. But given the player’s pedigree at the highest level of football, he is sure to attract an expensive wage bill, and it could have a massive impact on Arsenal’s wage budget.
That is where the Gunners could consider the sale of Ozil.
Although speculations suggest that the German playmaker may remain at Arsenal till the end of his contract, the transfer window is long, and the addition of Willian will only enforce the idea of offloading the ex-Real Madrid star, who reportedly bags £350k a week.
What’s next for Nicolas Pepe?
Pepe was considered to be a massive flop during his first season at Arsenal, after joining from LOSC Lille in a big-money move last summer. However, it is fair to point out that the Ivorian drastically improved during the second half of the campaign and has been involved in 18 goals in all competitions.
So one would expect Pepe to eclipse his tally and perform even better in the new season as he starts to settle into English football. Though the addition of Willian could affect his overall play-time, it could provide him with a much-needed incentive to try and fight for his place in the starting lineup.
It could help Arsenal as well given the fact the Gunners were struggling to find a reliable right-winger, especially with Reiss Nelson’s failing to live up to the expectations and Saka being more useful on the opposite flank.
A change of identity in the attacking department
Arteta’s method of deploying Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at left-wing and throwing Alexandre Lacazette in the number nine slot could change next season, following the arrival of Willian.
It is primarily because of the fact that Lacazette has been seemingly linked with a move away from Emirates. His potential departure will force Arteta to shift Aubameyang into a more central role, with Willian and Pepe potentially operating as the wide attacking forwards in Arteta’s trusted 3-4-3 setup.
Willian’s excellent work-ethic off the ball should actually make him a better outlet at left-wing when compared to Aubameyang. Besides, it will be interesting to see how the Brazilian teams up with Saka on the left flank, with Kieran Tierney presumably starting as the left-sided centre-back.
All in all, we could expect a radical change in Arsenal’s offensive style, for better or worse.
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