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Willian linked to Barcelona – what would he add?

Jake Jackman

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Willian

Barcelona could switch their attentions to Chelsea attacker Willian towards the end of the window if they fail to land their priority targets. They have been in the market for at least one attacker to replace Neymar. Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho and Angel di Maria have all been linked heavily to the Nou Camp.

However, France Football report that Los Cules are interested in Willian and are in touch with the player with the view to a transfer before the deadline. The Brazilian can play on either flank and his current status at Chelsea means that a move this summer could appeal to him. He isn’t a regular starter when everyone is available, with only 15 of his 34 appearances last season coming from the start.

During the 2015/16 season, he earned the club’s player of the year award and started to perform at a high level. It was surprising that he dropped down the pecking order under Antonio Conte, especially as he remained impressive when he did get on the pitch. Earlier in the window, he opened the door to a possible switch to Manchester United and he would likely entertain Barcelona if an offer was incoming.

What would he add to the Barcelona squad?

The La Liga club need to sign at least one more attacker if they are to challenge for major honours this season. It was a huge surprise that Neymar left and the lack of activity since shows that Barcelona weren’t expecting to lose him. Willian isn’t at the level of his compatriot, but he is an effective player and capable of making meaningful contributions at the highest level. The 29-year-old would certainly offer an upgrade on Gerard Deulofeu.

Willian is dynamic and looks to beat opposition defenders to create space in the final third. The combination of close ball control and pace mean that he is dangerous on the dribble. Last season, he averaged 2.96 chances created and 2.55 attempted shots per ninety minutes, showing the threat he poses in the final third. His decision making has improved a lot during the last 24 months, while his set piece ability is another reason he will appeal to Barcelona.

How likely is a move?

Barcelona are desperate for an attacker of good pedigree and that is open knowledge across football. It is causing the problems in the market as selling clubs are demanding huge fees for their targets. Willian won’t be an exciting signing, but he could be a good short-term purchase for the season to find a long-term replacement for Neymar.

Chelsea would be willing to sell him if an acceptable offer was forthcoming and he would be less costly than the players mentioned earlier in the article. That said, the Blues would want to buy a replacement before releasing the Brazilian. Time is becoming a huge problem for Barcelona in their search for attacking reinforcements and it will prevent a move for Willian unless they put the wheels in motion soon.

Willian to Barcelona
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Transfer Likelihood
The Boot Room's Verdict
This is possible considering Chelsea don’t consider him a starter, but the lack of time remaining means that it will be difficult to push through.

Jake is a journalist based in the South East. He is a Newcastle United fan and has a keen interest in Dutch football. Jake can be found on Twitter here - @jakejackmann.

Barcelona

Would Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele make Liverpool title contenders?

Jurgen Klopp has expressed his interest in the 20-year-old.

Josh Kerr

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Dembele
Photo: Getty Images

Liverpool should make a move for the La Liga ace Ousmane Dembele if the Barcelona winger becomes available this summer.

Manager Jurgen Klopp spoke of his fondness for the 20-year-old in a press conference yesterday and suggested he may be interested in signing the French international.

In quotes reported by the Daily Mail, Klopp admitted he was interested in the former Borrusia Dortmund forward by saying: “Is he on the market? Now I’m interested.”

Klopp’s interest may not actually lead to the club pursuing Dembele.

However, with a current squad losing bodies by the day following a large number of injuries to crucial players, Dembele would be a perfect addition for the Reds.

Some would argue he even may be capable of challenging Sadio Mane in the club’s starting eleven.

(Photo by Cristina Quicler/Getty Images)

Reports linking the club with Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann could spell concerns to the 20-year-old that he isn’t in Ernesto Valverde’s future plans.

The arrival of Dembele’s fellow countryman will make it significantly more difficult for him to keep his place alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

Dembele endured a tough first season for the La Liga champions, which included only nine Primera Division starts due to a long-term hamstring injury.

Understandably, a club as competitive as Barcelona can’t afford to wait around for Dembele to fulfill his outstanding potential and, therefore, a move may make sense.

The world’s third most expensive player certainly has the talent to be one of the brightest stars in the game.

If Liverpool genuinely want him, they will have to fork out a lot more than the initial £96.8 million that Barca paid less than 12 months ago.

Following Barcelona’s drawn-out pursuit of former Reds talisman Philippe Coutinho, the tables could now turn.

This time, it would be Jurgen Klopp’s side testing the Catalan giants resolve in their attempts to pry away a once-prized possession for an astronomical fee.

Dembele was initially considered a panic buy after the departure of Neymar to Paris Saint Germain and the Catalan’s failure to sign Coutinho in the same window.

(Photo by Octavio Passos/Getty Images)

Having now captured Coutinho, and with the club being linked with Griezmann, both of whom can slot into Barcelona’s famous front three, it is difficult to see what Dembele’s role in the team will be next season.

At just 20 years of age, the Frenchman is too talented to sit on the bench and with Liverpool proving themselves to be among the best in Europe this season, he could be the perfect player for Klopp to break the bank, to ensure the Reds continuing improving under his control.

With Naby Keita set to join this summer, and considering Virgil van Dijk’s immediate impact, the addition of another top player, in the form of Dembele, could be the move that allows Klopp’s side to seriously contend for the Premier League next season.

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Barcelona

Is Barcelona’s Andre Gomes the man to take West Ham to the next level?

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Photo: Getty Images

This season has been a disappointing one for West Ham as they have once again failed to match the rising expectations of fans and owners after their move to the London Stadium, but there could be hope in the summer with rumours of a sensation signing from Spain.

Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes is believed to be a target, according to the Mirror, as he looks for a fresh start after a disappointing two years at the Camp Nou.

The former Benfica and Valencia man has struggled to adapt since joining the La Liga leaders and has only been a bit part player this season, with the Hammers ready to make a move to bring him to London.

(Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)

There is no doubting that such a signing would be a coup given the quality of Gomes that he so regularly displayed before moving to Catalonia and he could benefit from moving to a club content with fighting for Europe, rather than titles.

The Portugal international relished his role as a leader in attack and the freedom that came with it in the past, so much so that it earned him his big-money move, and a deal taking him to West Ham could see him return to such a role.

David Moyes’ side have been sorely lacking creativity, particularly with Manuel Lanzini out injured and struggling for consistent form, and Gomes could be the man to help lead a charge back up the table next season after a disastrous 2017/18.

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Barcelona

Chelsea 1-1 Barcelona: Three talking points from Stamford Bridge

Rob Meech brings us three talking points as Chelsea held La Liga leaders Barcelona to a 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

Rob Meech

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Photo: Reuters

Lionel Messi finally broke his goalscoring duck against Chelsea to give Barcelona the edge after the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

Messi had failed to score in eight previous attempts against the Blues, but he was not to be denied on this occasion as he cancelled out Willian’s 62nd-minute opener.

A Chelsea clean sheet would have been a massive boost ahead of a daunting trip to the Camp Nou next month.

However, Messi’s equaliser 15 minutes from time means Antonio Conte’s men face an uphill battle to qualify for the quarter-finals of Europe’s showpiece competition.

Here are three talking points from Stamford Bridge…

Conte’s tactical approach so nearly pays dividends

But for the fatal error that led to Messi’s leveller, Chelsea would be heading to Catalonia in three weeks’ time with a one-goal lead to protect.

That they came so close to victory is testament to Conte’s tactical nous, which stifled Barcelona while also allowing the home side to flourish.

As expected, the visitors dominated the ball throughout the encounter. However, they created precious few opportunities as Chelsea’s back line held firm.

Conte had resisted the temptation to start with an out-and-out striker, with Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud both named on the bench.

The fluid movement of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Willian caused more problems than Barcelona have been used to this season and the Blues’ second-half goal was a deserved one.

Heading into the second leg, Conte will need to devise another masterplan if Chelsea are to proceed to the last eight.

Third time lucky for impressive Willian

The tricky Brazilian has by no means been a regular for Chelsea this season.

But he was given the nod against Barcelona in a three-man attack that featured Hazard as a false number nine.

It’s a system Conte has favoured recently, but although it failed to get the best out of Hazard, the same could not be said about Willian.

He was Chelsea’s chief threat and, on another night, could have walked off with the match ball.

Willian twice hit the post in the first-half, showing great skill on each occasion to create space and leave Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen with no chance.

Despite his misfortune, Willian was unbowed and he broke the deadlock with a pinpoint finish that raised the roof at Stamford Bridge.

It was a fitting reward for a top-class performance that highlighted his natural ability.

Surely he can’t be far away from cementing a regular spot in Conte’s starting XI?

Messi ends Chelsea goal drought to have decisive say

It is not often that British football fans get to see the little magician at such close quarters, so each time he arrives on these shores it is to be cherished.

Chelsea had a game-plan to nullify his influence and in the first half this worked superbly.

Although there were the usual sublime touches that we have come to expect, Messi was largely shackled by a solid rearguard display from Chelsea’s three-man central defence.

However, it only takes a side to switch off for a moment for the Argentinian to flex his muscles.

A misplaced pass from Andreas Christensen was intercepted by Andres Iniesta, whose pull back enabled Messi to slide the ball past Thibaut Courtois.

Once the ball had arrived to him in the box, there was no doubting where it would nestle.

Messi’s exuberant celebrations underlined the importance of his equaliser in the context of the tie.

It could be the decisive moment.

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