Willian's Arsenal move 'close' as Chelsea exit confirmed 

Gunners are ready to offload a number of established first teamers to fund a fresh infusion of players for next season.
Willian's Arsenal move 'close' as Chelsea exit confirmed 
Chelsea winger Willian is leaving Stamford Bridge and poised to head across London to rivals Arsenal.

Willian has confirmed he is leaving Chelsea, with Arsenal close to completing his signing on a three-year deal.

The Brazilian has written an open letter to fans confirming his exit following Chelsea's defeat to Bayern in the last 16 of the Champions League.

The 32-year-old leaves Stamford Bridge at the end of his contract after a seven-year spell, with Chelsea only willing to offer him a two-year deal rather than the player's desired three years.

"They were seven wonderful years. In August 2013 when I received the offer from Chelsea, I was convinced that this was where I had to play," he wrote.

"Today I am certain that it was the best of decisions. There were so many happy times, some sad, there were trophies and it was always very intense.

"Yet, beyond the trophies, I learnt a lot about myself. I developed a great deal, becoming a better player and a better person.

"With each training session, with each game, with every minute spent in the dressing room, I was always learning.

"I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans for the affectionate way they welcomed me at Stamford Bridge and their support throughout my time at the club.

"There was also criticism, which is normal, what is important though is that both the affection and criticism drove me to always give my all in every training session, every game, to be constantly improving until my very last minute in a Chelsea shirt.

"The time has now come to move on. I am certainly going to miss my team-mates. I will miss all the staff at the club who've always treated me like a son and I will miss the fans."

Arsenal moved into pole position to sign the Brazil international by offering a three-year contract earlier this week and are on the verge of beating off competition from Barcelona and Inter Miami.

The Gunners are ready to offload a number of established first teamers to fund a fresh infusion of players for next season.

Reports indicate that Alexandre Lacazette, Lucas Torreira and Ainsley Maitland Niles could all be on their way out of the Emirates as Mikel Arteta looks to boost his back four, midfield and attack.

29-year-old French striker Lacazette is in the crosshairs of Atletico Madrid, who could be offered the front man for £30m if and when Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang agrees a new contract to stay in North London.

Atletico are also interested in exploring the signing of Arsenal’s Uruguay midfielder Lucas Torreira, says Spanish paper Mundo Deportivo.

And Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham have registered their interest in utility player Maitland-Niles after indications from their North London rivals that they would listen to offers in the region of £20m.

The Sun on Sunday says Arsenal are ready to splash £100m on the permanent signing of Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, Atletico’s cover man Thomas Partey and Lille defender Gabriel - but need to sell players in order to do so. (Sun on Sunday). Barcelona and Brazil midfielder Philippe Coutinho – another player linked with Arsenal - will not make any decision on his future until his involvement with loan club Bayern Munich in this year's Champions League is over.

One area Arteta didn’t expect to looking at is in goals but they are now stepping up their search as they seek clarification on how long Bernd Leno will be out with a knee injury.

French site, Le10 Sport adds that the Gunners have joined the race to sign Marseille midfielder Morgan Sanson, with Tottenham and West Ham also interested in the 25-year-old Frenchman.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg will have a medical with Tottenham Monday ahead of his transfer from Southampton. Spurs have agreed a deal of £15m plus bonuses to sign the Denmark midfielder from the Saints.

Meanwhile Brighton have rejected a £22m bid from newly promoted Leeds for 22-year-old English centre-back Ben White, who spent last season on loan at Elland Road. Liverpool are also interested in White, but Chelsea are ready to outbid the Premier League champions and sell Germany centre-back Antonio Rudiger, 27, to raise funds, claims the Star on Sunday.

Chelsea are also looking at Manchester City defender John Stones and hope to sign the 26-year-old England international for £20m, according to the Sunday Mirror.

The German Bild claims Borussia Dortmund will offer Jadon Sancho a new deal and a significant pay rise if Manchester United do not meet their £100m valuation by Monday.

Other German media, namely Kicker magazine, says Jurgen Klopp has been told by the Liverpool’s owners he must sell players such as Naby Keita, 25 to fund a move for Munich’s Thiago Alcantara.

Leicester and Liverpool are interested in Olympiakos and Greece left-back Kostas Tsimikas, 24, who could be available for £12m, says the Mail on Sunday.

Crystal Palace are set to miss out on English forward Eberechi Eze. QPR want £20m for the 22-year-old but the Eagles only value him at £10m. (Sun on Sunday) It’s also reported Sunday that newly promoted West Brom have held talks with Brighton over a deal for Republic of Ireland defender Shane Duffy. The Derry man is 28.

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox