Former Arsenal scout Daniel Musatti claims that he tried to get the club to sign Willian in 2006 but Arsene Wenger wasn’t interested.
When Willian was still at Corinthians, Musatti claims that, with the help of Arsenal’s chief scout, he did a full report on the attacking midfielder and recommended Arsenal sign him. However, apparently Arsenal weren’t interested and the now-29-year-old signed for Shakhtar Donetsk instead.
“I did the report of Denilson of São Paulo that year, and shortly after he was sold to England,” Musatti told ESPN Brazil. “The athletes were recommended by Wenger’s chief scout to the scouts of Brazil, they were all pre-determined.
“I made the suggestion that we watched Willian and make a full report of him for the analysis of Arsenal’s chief scout, but at the time I was told that there was no interest because they were looking at another player.”
After a brief spell at Anzhi Makhachkala, Willian signed for Chelsea in 2013 and has gone on to make 226 appearances, score 44 goals and assist 37. The Brazil international has also won the Premier League twice while in London.
Although it might sound frustrating that Wenger missed out on another top talent, we have to keep in mind that this was 12 years ago. Wenger’s team was very different back then and Willian would only have been about 17. Therefore, although Musatti obviously rated the teenager, it’s hardly shocking that Arsenal had other priorities at that time.
There’s also no telling how well Willian would have developed if he had signed for Arsenal at such a young age. He might have just disappeared into the academy and got sold on in his early 20s like so many young players do.