The former Gunners midfielder is excited by the prospect of the Brazil international’s imminent arrival at Emirates Stadium
Chelsea star Willian is a “special player”, according to Paul Merson, who insists that the midfielder “would be an unbelievable signing for Arsenal”.
Chelsea are only willing to extend the 31-year-old’s stay in west London through to 2023, with the winger wanting a three-year deal.
Willian has been omitted from Frank Lampard’s squad for a Champions League last-16 showdown against Bayern Munich in Germany on Saturday, with the Blues boss confirming that he still hasn’t recovered from the Achilles injury which kept him out of the FA Cup final.
With Chelsea’s season set to end if they cannot overturn a 3-0 first-leg deficit against Bayern, Lampard also admitted that the Brazilian midfielder is on the verge of moving on.
The 42-year-old head coach told a pre-match press conference of Willian’s situation: “We as a club will always want to move forward, no matter what. Eden Hazard left last year; the club continues to work in a forward direction which I think we have in many ways.
“That remains the same, whatever player leaves the club.”
Merson is amazed that the Blues are allowing an experienced Premier League performer to leave for nothing, and thinks he will slot into Mikel Arteta’s line-up at the Emirates seamlessly should a deal be finalised in the coming days.
“Willian would be an unbelievable signing for Arsenal,” Merson told the Daily Star.
“I think Willian is a special player who ticks all the boxes. I can’t believe Chelsea are letting him go to be honest.
“I know he’s 31 and wanted a three-year contract but football is all about now, and right now he’s a great player. No manager is thinking about what might happen in three or four years’ time.
“They need results now, so it’s no surprise to me Frank Lampard doesn’t want him to go. Arteta won’t be Arsenal manager forever. He needs to win now. Willian can help him do that.
“He’s a special player and a blinding signing in my opinion. Okay, he probably won’t be pulling up any trees in his third year, but who cares? He ticks every box.
“He won’t have to settle in London because he’s been here for years and his family love the place. He won’t have to adapt to a new league because he’s already a proven performer for a top club here.
“So he should be able to hit the ground running because he won’t need loads of time to adapt like a player coming in for big money from a foreign club.
“He’s quick and he works hard and he has plenty of experience. He also has that guile that Arsenal sometimes lack. He could even play as a No.10.”