Willian: ‘I wasn’t motivated to train at Arsenal’

Fulham striker Willian is opening up about his ill-fated move to Arsenal in 2020, saying he didn’t feel ‘motivated’ to train with Mikel Arteta’s side.

Ancient Arsenal attacker Willian admitted he didn’t feel “motivated” to train during his disappointing spell with the North London giants.

Mikel Arteta welcomed the Brazil international to the Emirates Stadium in 2020 after a breakdown in contract talks led to his departure from Chelsea.

The 34-year-old signed a three-year contract with the Gunners and provided two assists on his debut against Fulham at Craven Cottage, but he failed to make a lasting impression.

Willian made a total of 37 appearances during his time at Arsenal, in which he scored seven goals but only found the back of the net once – netting a free-kick against West Bromwich Albion.

The striker’s deal was terminated to allow him to join Corinthians on a free transfer, and after returning to the Premier League with Fulham, Willian has now opened up on his ill-fated move to Arsenal.

© Reuters

Talk to Athleticism when terminating his contract, Willian said: “I think I might be the only player who did something like that. Any other player in my situation would have stayed until the end of the contract and continued picking up the money. But I’m not like that.

“Money is not the most important thing in the world. I have to feel good, feel motivated to go to training. I didn’t have that there so I decided to leave.

“For most of the season we played without fans. I didn’t see any Arsenal fans. Maybe I needed to feel the buzz from the crowd, that it was something that I missed it. It was a difficult time not only for me, but for everyone in the world.

“Playing without fans at a new club is not easy. On my last day there, I spoke with manager Mikel Arteta. I thanked him very much for what he had done for me, for bringing me to Arsenal.

“I just wished him all the best. He is a good manager and I have a lot of respect for Arsenal. They are doing well, they have good players. They can achieve good things this season.”

Corinthians' Willian pictured on October 6, 2021© Reuters

Willian is said to have earned £200,000 a week at the Emirates Stadium, and he made 45 appearances in total for Corinthians in his second spell at the Brazilian club.

The former Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk man registered just one goal and six assists in his homeland before becoming a free agent again, leading Fulham to rush for his signature.

Willian made his Cottagers debut on the bench in a 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on September 3, and he was placed in the starting line-up by Marco Silva for the trip to Nottingham Forest last weekend.

The South American netted his first goal contribution for the Cottagers at the City Ground, with Tosin Adarabioyo heading home to his corner in a 3-2 win between the two newly promoted sides.

Fulham sit sixth in the Premier League table with 11 points from their first six games and are back against Newcastle United on October 1 at Craven Cottage after the international break.

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