Wenger’s golden rule proved right as Arsenal flop ‘wants to leave this summer’

Arsenal's decision to hand Willian a three-year contract has been thrown into focus after reports claimed he wants to leave the club at the end of the season.

Mikel Arteta landed the Brazilian on a free transfer last summer, after he ended his long and successful spell with local rivals Chelsea.

Willian played more than 300 times in his seven seasons at Stamford Bridge, winning three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and a Europa League crown.

"He has the experience of everything in the football world but still has the ambition to come here and contribute to bring the club where it belongs,” Arteta said after the signing was announced.

Chelsea did offer the forward a deal to remain with the club, but were unwilling to match what the Gunners had put on the table.

That mainly came down to length of contract, with the Blues not prepared to commit to Willian for as long as his new club.

However, less than a season into that three-year deal, suggestions have been raised that he could look to leave the Emirates.

The Athletic report that he is one of five senior players – along with Bernd Leno, Granit Xhaka, David Luiz and Hector Bellerin – who are actively looking to leave.

Shifting the under-performing veteran, who is on a reported £100,000-per-week, will not be easy, particularly in the current financial climate.

And it shows why legendary Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger was so reluctant to hand long contracts out to ageing stars.

The Frenchman was in the Gunners dugout when the stadium move was carried out and the financial implications that came along with that.

In those years he tended to sign players with good resale value and admitted in 2010 that once a player reaches 32, Willian’s age when he signed last summer, he would only go year-to-year.

"It's not over 30, it's over 32. So when you have a player [who is] 32 he will just get a one-year contract,” Wenger explained.

“It depends on the positions as well. If a central defender, then no problem to sign them until 34. But a striker is different.

“After 32 you go from year to year. A midfielder as well, after 32 you go from year-to-year."

Willian netted his first Arsenal goal in Sunday’s win over West Brom and following the win, Arteta admitted that he had struggled to get the best out of him.

“Willi, we have to [demand high standards] because he’s done it in the past and we have to demand it much more,” he explained. “He’s done it for many years and achieved big things in the game. Somehow this season we haven’t managed to get the best out of him.”

It remains to be seen whether Arteta will be given the time to find that level of performance, but either way, looking back, the signing smacks of a transfer mistake that could have been avoided.

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