It seems like a distant memory of this transfer window, but one of the first names to be linked with a transfer to Manchester United when Jose Mourinho took over was Chelsea’s Willian. The Brazilian, voted the the Blues’ player of the season after a disastrous campaign for the former Premier League champions, was reportedly happy to hear of the former Chelsea manager’s interest when speaking to the London Evening Standard, but wanted to remain at Stamford Bridge. As reported by the International Business Times, Willian signed a new 4-year deal in July which appeared to end any potential United interest.
“Of course, when someone like him [Mourinho] is interested in you then you are happy. But I signed the contract because I like being a Chelsea player and I see good things here.”
The news that United were indeed interested in the Brazilian playmaker is hardly a shock; indeed, Mourinho was expected to return to his old club to enquire about the availability of at least one of his former charges with both Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabregas rumoured to be interesting Mourinho.
United could certainly have used someone with his flexibility, with his use on the left and right side of attack for Chelsea proving his ability to adapt and maintain his effectiveness on either flank. With 11 goals in 49 appearances last season, including several impressive curling free kicks from long range, it’s easy to see why he was put forward as his club’s player of the year, and one United would certainly have gotten use out of, especially due to the indifferent form of Memphis Depay and Jesse Lingard’s inconsistencies in front of goal.
Having said that, Mourinho’s purchase of Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Borussia Dortmund, who can operate on the right flank and the impressive debut season enjoyed by Anthony Martial suggests that United won’t be lost without the Brazilian’s presence. The duo notched 23 and 17 goals in all competitions last season respectively, which begs the question of whether Willian would be much of an upgrade on the charges that Mourinho already possesses? On this evidence, it’s difficult to suggest that he would.