Bumper offer for Willian as Chelsea aim to stave off rival clubs

Chelsea want to extend Willian's contract to ward off potential suitors as they look likely to miss out on next season's Champions League.
Chelsea want to extend Willian's contract to ward off potential suitors as they look likely to miss out on next season's Champions League.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea have offered Willian a four-year contract worth £120,000 (S$238,200) a week amid concerns failure to qualify for next season's Champions League could force players to head for the exit.

The club are expecting offers for Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and Diego Costa at the end of the season, should they miss out on Europe's elite club competition for the first time in the Roman Abramovich era.

Chelsea are also increasingly concerned that Willian's excellent performances will attract a bid from Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich or Juventus, who have expressed interest in him in the past.

The Brazilian has 21/2 years left on the contract he signed when joining in a £30 million transfer from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013. But Chelsea want to tie him to a new deal before the end of the season.

The 27-year-old is being offered a significant increase on his £80,000-a-week wages and is likely to commit to the club until 2020.

Hazard, Courtois and Costa have four, three and three years left on their deals respectively so would command large fees if Chelsea opted to sell any of them, while extending Willian's contract would also increase his transfer value.

However, the club are determined to keep Willian, who has been their only consistent performer this season.

The Brazil forward is the second-highest scorer behind Costa, with 10 goals in all competitions and his work rate and versatility have also made him a huge asset.

He is equally comfortable in any of the three attacking positions behind the striker.

Willian has indicated to Chelsea that he wants to stay, although he may wait until they have made progress in securing a new manager before putting pen to paper.

Massimiliano Allegri, Antonio Conte and Jorge Sampaoli had been the leading candidates to take over, but Allegri's agent confirmed on Monday that the Juventus coach would not be leaving the Italian champions at the end of the season.

Allegri, 48, has been learning English for several years and has made it patently clear that he hopes to work in the Premier League, but his adviser suggested that he is prepared to wait for that opportunity to arise.

"Allegri will stay where he is because he is happy at Juventus," Giovanni Branchini said. "The club are at the same level as the big sides in Europe."

John Obi Mikel called on Chelsea to give the job to Guus Hiddink, 69, on a permanent basis. The Dutchman is due to end his second spell as interim manager at Stamford Bridge at the end of the season, but Mikel claimed a vast majority of the players want him to stay.

"I definitely want him to stay, but it is the choice of the owner, the club and the board," said the midfielder. "They will have to decide, but if you speak to the players, 98 or 99 per cent of them want him to stay."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2016, with the headline 'Bumper offer for Willian as Chelsea aim to stave off rival clubs'. Print Edition | Subscribe