Premier League sides Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur were hot to get midfielder Willian during the transfer window. Those hopes were dashed when the Brazilian was sent to the Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala for what would be the highest fee in Europe during the January transfer window.
Willian will move from the Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk for a fee of at least £30 million (about $48 million), with reports as high as £34 million $54 million).
The transfer will dishearten officials at Chelsea and Tottenham, especially Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas, who attempted to get him with both clubs. Chelsea made offers in January and July 2012, with the second offer reportedly around £25 million ($39.8 million). Shakhtar officials in January 2012 said Willian had a £29 million ($46.1 million) buyout clause in his contract.
Chelsea had two opportunities to scout Willian when the clubs met in the UEFA Champions League group stage; Willian scored twice in the clubs’ second meeting in November.
Willian said Villas-Boas, manager at Chelsea when it made its January offer, kept contact with the 24-year-old through messages he sent throughout this season. Tottenham’s offer in July was for far less than Chelsea’s.
“He wanted to bring me to Chelsea and also tried at Tottenham,” Willian told the Brazilian website Lancenet. He previously stated his goal was to play in the major European countries: “England, Spain or Italy.”
Willian came to Shakhtar in 2007 on a £12 million ($19 million) transfer from the Greek club Corinthians, where he started in its youth system. He scored 20 goals in 140 league matches for Shakhtar.