Former Chelsea star Pat Nevin argues that Eden Hazard’s departure to Real Madrid had a positive effect on Willian who has become one of the best performers in the new season.
As the biggest creative force has left, his functions have been distributed among the remaining players by manager Frank Lampard.
“Frank is giving him a lot of praise, positivity and freedom; that helps any creative player,” Nevin told The Athletic. “He is not playing in a more structured way but I think he has also been helped with Eden Hazard not being there.
“People don’t realise how if you have a guy on the other wing, he has a massive effect on your game. If the guy on the other wing is less of a willing worker, it’s like a piece of string. If he is 20 yards further up the pitch, you have to be 20 yards back to cover for that area. Hazard wasn’t the maddest worker. Willian did most of the donkey work but he was willing to do it for the team.
“The other thing was, when Chelsea had the ball, if the players had a choice between giving Hazard or Willian the ball, more often than not, they gave it to Hazard. With Hazard in Madrid, he is getting much more ball and opportunities now.
“On top of that, Willian is not a natural winger; he is a No 10. But in Brazil, there are a lot of No 10s and Chelsea don’t often play with a 10. He has had to subvert a lot of himself. Now, he is getting a lot more ball, space and leeway to go inside.”
Besides, Willian has become a mentor for the young teammates:
This season, Willian has made 15 appearances for Chelsea and has not been left out from the starting XI in the Premier League or the Champions League for 2 months. The Brazilian has scored 3 goals and registered 2 assists.