Chelsea have reportedly been given the go-ahead to snap up Brazilian winger Willian this summer, providing they meet the asking price of his Ukrainian club, Shakhtar Donetsk.
The Londoners had a bid rejected in January, which was around £17m, but Shakhtar wanted around £20m-£25m it is rumoured. Santos were Chelseas biggest threat to capture his signature, as they desperately wanted him to link up with Brazilian striker Neymar, but in February, the Santos president ruled his club out of the race, leaving Chelsea as the forerunners.
The 23-year old is highly rated at Stamford Bridge, and with a big rebuild on the cards on the summer, he seems the perfect candidate, as both Florent Malouda and Salamon Kalou have not impressed and could be on their way out.
The move would see him link up with fellow Brazilians David Luiz, and Ramires, as well as Lucas Piazon, who is yet to break into the first team.
The winger made his name in his home country at Corinthians, who have set the stage for such Brazilian greats as Ronaldo, Socrates, and Vampeta. He played 37 times for them, scoring twice, in the same game against Athletico-PR. Whilst in Brazil, he also won the U20 South American Championship aged just 18, and went on to collect 11 caps for them.
In the August of 2007, Shakhtar signed the youngster for around £12m, and has gone on to make 117 appearances for the club, including in this seasons Champions League, where his double helped sink Roma on their way to the Quarter-Finals last month.
He has since made two appearances for the full national team, and has won the Ukrainian Premier League with Donetsk in three out of the last four seasons, and has a good chance of picking up his fourth this season.
That may well be it for the speedy winger though, as Chelsea will look to replace an ageing line-up, and I think Willian is the perfect candidate for whoever takes the helm next season.
A 4-3-3 formation is perfect for Chelsea, and with Torres or Drogba through the centre, or possibly a new signing, Willian can easily fit on either side of the main man, and cause a massive nuisance. I think he will also be a much cheaper option that other candidates such as Hazard, Robben, and Cavani.
Player Rating: 8 – He is not proven at the big level yet, but comes from a prestigious youth academy, and has already player in Europe and been called up for Brazil. Think he will become a big star in time.
Need for Winger: 8 – Juan Mata has been star of the season for Chelsea, but would benefit from a different player, such as Willian, on the other side, someone who can take some of the assists and play off him, and produce more for the main man, whether that be Torres, Drogba, or a new man.
Affordable?: 9 – The Russian in charge has already promised a chest of money for the new boss this summer, but Willian could well be a bargain, as the market has priced others much higher, and he could well slip under the radar and into Chelseas hands for less than £20m.
By Brad Smith