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Willian's love-hate relationship with Chelsea and the club's fans

Willian has made an impressive 253 appearances during his five years at Chelsea. He has won four major honours and played with flair and charisma. Yet he has still not won over all of the club's supporters.

While many supporters think the Brazilian is brilliant, others would like to see him make way for younger talent.

The division among the Stamford Bridge faithful is surprising when one considers that the £30 million signing from Anzhi Makhachkala has always been so highly rated by every single Blues boss he has played under.

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Jose Mourinho absolutely adored him, Antonio Conte couldn't do without him and Maurizio Sarri has now started him for the past 11 games, having become an increasingly integral and influential component in the new manager's system.

He has also shown himself to be a reliable and calm character in times of crisis, having been one of the few players to refuse to down tools during the disastrous 2015-16 season which ended with Chelsea in 10th place.

Willian was also one of Conte's best players at the end of last season, even outperforming Eden Hazard for a period, and this in spite of the fact that the Brazil international had a poor relationship with the former Juventus coach.

However, therein lies part of the problem: Chelsea fans remain divided on the collapse of Conte and Willian's relationship, which led to the dropped winger posting trophy emojis over the manager's face in an Instagram post.

Willian Chelsea Antonio Conte 2017-18

Willian claimed that his daughter had been to blame, saying that she had got hold of his phone and edited out the Italian coach. However, that explanation did not wash with many Chelsea fans.

Some supporters have also grown increasingly frustrated with Willian's perceived inconsistency. As he showed against Barcelona in the Champions League last season, this is a player capable of excelling against the best teams in world football, yet he has also gone through a number of fallow periods.

It still should come as no surprise that Barcelona wanted to sign him for £55 million during the summer, having seen just what he could do first hand during a stellar showing at Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the two clubs' last-16 tie, but the Blaugrana ultimately ended up signing the younger and cheaper Malcom from Bordeaux.

Still, there is no doubt Willian, and David Luiz, would have left Chelsea had Conte stayed in charge. Indeed, it is probable that Willian would have been reunited with Mourinho at Manchester United had Sarri not been installed as his compatriot's successor.


As a result, Hazard is benefiting even more from Willian's willingness to graft, with the Belgian having been unburdened by almost all of his defensive responsibilities this season. In that sense, Willian's work is appreciated as much by his team-mates as by his managers.

Consequently, Willian, who has 18 months left on his current contract, is hoping to extend his stay in west London, even if some Chelsea supporters remain reluctant to fully embrace him.

“A lot of people, they say a lot of things, but I never said that I wanted to leave Chelsea, never. I always say that I want to stay at Chelsea as long as possible and I am happy to stay here," he recently revealed.

“When I arrived here my plan was to stay here as long as possible and now I am here for five years I hope to stay five more.

"I know I have two years of contract left but I hope to stay more years in the Premier League."

Chelsea fans are, unsurprisingly, more preoccupied with Hazard extending a contract which expires in 2020 but, if Willian does likewise, it should give him sufficient time to ensure that he'll have won over every single supporter by the time he eventually leaves the Bridge.