‘Willian a safer bet for Arsenal than Coutinho’ – Keown not convinced by links to Barcelona outcast

The former Gunners defender believes the right decision has been made in looking to snap up a proven Chelsea star as a free agent

Willian is a “safer bet” for Arsenal than Philippe Coutinho, admits Martin Keown, with Mikel Arteta considered to be making the right decision when it comes to acquiring more creativity.

The Gunners are looking to bolster their attacking ranks during the summer transfer window.

Early speculation suggested that they could be among those in the running for former Liverpool star Coutinho, who has been deemed surplus to requirements at Barcelona.

No deal has been done, though, and a door has opened for another Brazil international.

Willian is approaching the end of his contract at Chelsea and is expected to cross London and link up with Arsenal once he hits free agency.

“Coutinho has been linked with virtually everybody and seems, if I am honest, a bit unsettled," former Gunners defender Keown told The Mirror.

“I think Willian is a safer bet. He's in the capital, he knows the Premier League very well and he's a top performer. I think it's a huge loss for Chelsea.”

Willian is preparing to depart Chelsea after seven years at Stamford Bridge that have delivered 339 appearances, 63 goals and two Premier League titles.

Keown believes his ability and experience will prove to be valuable assets for Arsenal, adding on the 31-year-old forward: “I think that's a fantastic bit of business. I have always been a real admirer of Willian.

“When I saw what he has been doing this year at Chelsea with his free-kicks and penalties, he's so reliable.

“He has had his misfortunes with [Eden] Hazard being there. Sometimes he has had to play second-fiddle. Now he is fighting for a place with [Christian] Pulisic.

“I know there is a discussion over two or three years [contract], but I think he would be a really good acquisition for Arsenal.

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“He comes in with a wealth of experience and I like his work ethic.

“He is someone who will always give you 100 per cent and the right type of player to go into what is a really young Arsenal dressing room.”

As they close in on a deal for Willian, the Gunners are also hoping to see club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang bring the uncertainty surrounding his future to a close by signing a new contract.