Arsenal are close to completing the signing of midfielder Willian from Chelsea on a three-year deal.
Arsenal moved into pole position to sign the Brazil international, whose Chelsea deal expires later this month, by offering a three-year contract earlier this week, and are on the verge of beating off competition from Barcelona and Inter Miami in the MLS.
Along with the length of the deal, joining Mikel Arteta’s rejuvenated side and the chance to work with fellow Brazilian Edu are the reasons Arsenal are favourites to secure Willian’s signature.
Despite wanting Willian, who turns 32 on Sunday, to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea have refused to offer more than a further two years – and the chances of him being a Chelsea player when the new season begins in five weeks look remote.
Frank Lampard has admitted his side need to improve defensively, but that Chelsea would need to sell before they can buy, having already spent big in the attacking areas by bringing in Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech.
Willian made 47 appearances for Chelsea in all competitions and finished the season in fine form, with four Premier League goals after the restart taking his tally for the season to nine.
Analysis: ‘Willian wants one last big deal’: Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:
“Willian wants one big final contract – ideally a three-year deal to take him to 35. Chelsea would like to keep him, though they’re not going to offer him three years.
“At the moment, it looks like Arsenal is his most likely destination but he is a free agent and at his age, realistically, you’re likely to go where there is the most money and longest contract on offer.
“He’s got a great injury record so his agent will be saying, ‘Don’t worry about his fitness’.”
Aubameyang set to sign new deal
Arsenal’s pursuit of Willian comes as they attempt to seal a new deal for captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who is understood to be close to extending his contract, which is currently set to expire in the summer of 2021.
Aubameyang, 31, scored 22 goals in the Premier League last season and netted twice in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Chelsea in Saturday’s FA Cup final.
Since his move to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in January 2018, he has scored 54 goals in 85 Premier League games.
The news of the Arsenal’s offers to Aubameyang and Willian comes after the club made a statement revealing their plan to make 55 members of staff redundant, including international recruitment specialist Francis Cagigao.
Arsenal, who will hold meetings with staff on Friday, said one of the key reasons cutbacks are being made is to “maintain investment in the team”. Sky Sports