14 Sept 2015

Legend confirms: Liverpool almost signed 'brilliant' £30m Brazilian, but he rejected Anfield because of CL football

In the summer of 2013, Chelsea attacker Willian confirmed that Liverpool's interest in signing him, and at one point, the Reds were reportedly favourites to seal the deal. Predictably, though, the deal fell through, and the Brazilian ended up at Stamford Bridge. Why did Willian reject Liverpool? In his new autobiography, Reds legend Steven Gerrard reveals the truth behind the transfer fail.

Transfer timeline:

13 Aug 2013: The Telegraph claimed: "Liverpool have emerged as the favourites to sign Willian".

17 Aug 2013: When asked about Liverpool's interest, Willian told ESPN: "There are talks, and I'm waiting for a new bid to arrive in the next days from a few clubs, like Liverpool. If it's really Liverpool, then it is surely a great club".

Aug 2013: Willian started following fellow Brazilians Lucas and Coutinho on Twitter.

Recalling Liverpool's attempt to sign Willian, Gerrard:

* Confirmed that Liverpool were 'speaking to Willian's agent' at the time.

* Sent Willian a 'text', wherein he stressed how much he 'admired him as a player'.

* Told Willian he was 'available any time' to 'chat or ask any questions' about moving to LFC.

Gerrard then revealed the reason for Willian's rejection of a move to Anfield:

“He [Willian] again said that it would be great to play in the same team as me [but also said]: ‘I’m not sure Liverpool can give me the Champions League".

At the time, missing out on Willian [cost: £30m] seemed like a major loss, but he's hardly set the world on fire in the Premier League.

Granted, that's probably more to do with Mourinho forcing him to prioritise defensive duty over attacking (sound familiar?), but overall, Willian's creative impact Chelsea (8 goals/13 assists in 97 games) is poor.

That said, he clearly would've been perfect for Liverpool as Rodgers loves attacking players who spend all their time defending/pressing etc, so I'm sure he was sick as a dog at missing out on the Willian.

It's no surprise that Rodgers employed Gerrard as his transfer go-between. Liverpool's manager simply doesn't have the profile or pulling power to attract elite international players, so he has to use whatever tools are at his disposal.

Willian - hailed by Frank Lampard as 'brilliant' - cited the Champions League as the reason he rejected Liverpool, but even when Liverpool qualified for the competition, it made no difference to the club's ability to attract the best players.

If Liverpool can't attract the elite with CL football; Gerrard in the team, and £120m to spend, then there's obviously a real problem somewhere.

Author: Jaimie K


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