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The Brazilian forward is grateful to Anzhi for signing him in January but still aspires to play at the top level in one of Europe's elite competitions

EXCLUSIVE
By Fernando Ahuvia & Kris Voakes

Brazilian forward Willian has told Goal that Anzhi Makhachkala saved him from a difficult situation at Shakhtar Donestk but he hopes to move on again at some point in order to reach the top of the game for both club and country.

The attacker, who joined Anzhi from Shakhtar for €35 million in January, was speaking after being placed at No.38 in the Goal 50 following a hugely impressive season domestically and in the Champions League.

“I tried to leave Shakhtar for over a year, but couldn’t do it,” Willian explained.

“I had offers from big English clubs and from other places, but Shakhtar never accepted them. Anzhi were the only ones who agreed to pay for my release clause. I have enormous affection and respect for this club, but everybody knows that my dreams and desires haven’t changed.

“I have the goal of playing for a big club and being in the spotlight to rejoin the Brazil national team but for now I’m an Anzhi player, and I intend to keep playing here with a calm mind.”

The 24-year-old added that times were sometimes hard at Shakhtar, despite him helping to lead the Ukrainian side into last season’s Champions League knockout stage.

“I tried every possible way to negotiate my exit, showing my desire to play for a big club, but they never really cared about it,” he said. “They were only willing to let me go if someone could pay the release clause fee. I wanted very badly to go to England, but I have no regrets and couldn’t wait any longer to leave Shakhtar. They used to tell me one thing and then act otherwise.”

Willian is also hugely appreciative of his selection in the Goal 50 following excellent form with both Shakhtar and Anzhi over the course of 2012-13.

“It’s a huge satisfaction to be part of this list,” he beamed. “I always try to do my best to achieve that kind of acknowledgment. I’m thrilled for having been chosen among the best 50 players of the season."

Compatriot Fred told Goal that Brazilian soccer has “always been a cradle for football, where you have a new player every day,” and Willian agrees that the nomination of so many Canarinha stars in the Goal 50 shows that the country’s game continues to thrive.

“Brazil has always had top players and every moment there’s a new prospect appearing somewhere. The Selecaoalso did superbly at the Confederations Cup and the team has been improving recently,” he added. “I’m sure we will keep on forging great players."

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