Willian has “suffered” from playing in the same teams as Eden Hazard and Neymar, claims Pat Nevin, but the Chelsea winger is now showing that he can be a star for club and country in his own right.
The Brazil international has always been a useful asset for the Blues and Selecao, and his ability has never been questioned, with a healthy contribution of goals and assists having been offered at Stamford Bridge and for a demanding South American nation.
Willian has, however, often found himself being forced to operate in the shadow of more illustrious colleagues.
The 31-year-old has been freed, though, at Chelsea by the summer of sale of Hazard to Real Madrid, while Neymar has seen injury struggles disrupt his involvement with Brazil.
Willian is considered to be thriving with added responsibility, with former Blues winger Nevin telling the club’s official website: “The final joyous recovery is of course Willian who has been sparkling of late.
“He was getting the bird for a while too but I have my suspicions for the reasons why. His work load and schedule has been ridiculous for years with the travelling back to Brazil to play in their myriad games from World Cup qualifiers, Copa America and all the final tournaments themselves. He has had very little rest time for quite a few seasons now and I think you could see the wear and tear affecting him.
“His game isn’t that of a winger only, he always works back as well and with both Brazil and Chelsea in the last few years he has suffered from playing on the ‘other’ wing to one of the best players in the world (Neymar and Hazard). Neither of those two players are noted for their covering back, so as the other winger you have to compensate and do more work.
“I am not surprised Willian is having a good time. A little less pressure from the national side, more time on the ball now that Eden has gone, a manager who encourages constant attacking play which suits him and now the fans giving him all the backing. This could well be a golden season for the 31-year-old in a Chelsea shirt, just as everyone else is talking about the kids.”