Will he or won’t he has been the question surrounding Gareth Bale this summer as speculation mounts about a record breaking move to Real Madrid for the Welsh wing ace. Whether he is worth an estimated £94million is to be debated but regardless the move looks to be going ahead as planned with the player due in Spain for medical within the week. Tottenham are already planning for his exit by looking at Brazilian midfielder Willian who is now available due to the current fire sale at Anzhi Makhachkala, as detailed in an earlier blog post. Manager Andre Villas Boas sees the skillful winger as the perfect replacement for Bale but faces stiff competition from other suitors including Liverpool and his former club, Chelsea.
The name Willian was fairly unknown to many outside of the conventional football circles less than 18 months ago but after starring in Shakhtar Donetsk run in the Champions League last year including fine performances against Chelsea and Juventus in the group stages as Shakhtar robbed Chelsea of the second qualifying spot. Shakhtar were eventually knocked out by finalists Borussia Dortmund but Willian’s form was enough to convince big spending Anzhi to part with €35 million on the last day of the January 2013 transfer window for his services. But less than 6 months into his move, Anzhi is having to restructure due to UEFA’s new financial fair play rules and is selling off their prize assets like Willian and Cameroon superstar Samuel Eto’o to balance the books. Eto’o has been linked with Chelsea to rejoin Mourinho but a move back to his second home, Inter Milan looks more in tune with the players thinking. That has allowed Chelsea to look at other targets including Willian, much to the frustration of Andre Villas Boas at Tottenham.
Also on AVB’s wish list is Erik Lamela, the highly rated Argentine currently lightening up Serie A with some impressive performances for Roma. But he is seen more as a replacement for Aaron Lennon or as a optional centre forward so not a direct fit for Bales role. That is where Willian will fit in with the player likely to be fielded on his favored left side but given the same type of freedom on the pitch afforded to Bale. AVB will lean heavily on his current Brazilians Paulinho and Sandro to help persuade Willian to join the white side of London rather than the blue but it’s guaranteed that Mourinho will be employing the same tactics by using his growing Brazilian contingent to sweeten the deal for Willian.
Whilst a last ditch move by a Spanish or German club cannot be ruled out and a move to Liverpool looks unlikely, a switch to the English capital looks on the cards for Willian. Just which side he chooses will be up to him but Spurs fans will secretly be praying that its them especially if their prodigal son Bale does finally make his exit from White Hart Lane.