Arsenal legend explains "unnecessary" problem Arteta has created with Willian
Former Arsenal defender Nigel Winterburn says it was "unnecessary" to offer Willian a three-year contract, and believes the club may already be regretting the transfer.
The Brazilian forward has struggled since joining Arsenal in the summer after leaving Chelsea once his contract had expired.
Chelsea's refusal to offer Willian more than two further years at the club was behind his decision to seek pastures new.
But Winterburn feels Arsenal have now been lumbered with him as a result, with the emergence of several youngsters has posed Mikel Arteta with an unwanted problem.
“Willian has underperformed in an Arsenal shirt so far,” Winterburn, speaking in association with FreeSuperTips , told Goal . “You can’t hide away from the fact that most of the supporters expected a lot more than what we’ve seen so far.
“There’s no doubt in my mind the ability he has, especially watching him play at Chelsea, but he hasn’t delivered that for Arsenal.
“The problem that he has now is with the emergence of some of the young players, it’s looking like his chances are going to be limited because the younger players are the players that Mikel Arteta simply cannot leave out of the team."
The form of Emile Smith Rowe in particular has seen the 20-year-old usurp Willian in the attacking midfield role as Arteta changed formation amid the club's previous struggles.
Bukayo Saka's switch to the right-hand side and Nicolas Pepe's improved performances have also contributed to Willian falling further down the pecking order.
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Winterburn continued: "Initially, I thought Willian was a good signing, I did also worry that I didn’t want it to interfere with the progression of some of the younger players, but also that experience from a player Willian, can help guide the younger players.
"Willian is simply not performing at the same level for Arsenal as he was for Chelsea.
“At this moment in time, you’d have to say that giving him a three-year contract was unnecessary, but if we offered him a one-year contract, then I don’t think he would’ve joined Arsenal."
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To make the matter worse, Arsenal committed to a £200,000-per-week deal to convince Willian to sign, which now looks to be a real burden for the club in the long-term.
“I understand the logistics of what the club was trying to achieve when they brought him in at that period of time," Winterburn added. "However, given the way the club has developed this season with their younger players, I’m sure the club will look back and think it was a transfer they didn’t need to make."
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