Chelsea will be on alert with reports from Spanish news source Mundo Deportivo via the Express saying that Barcelona are looking at midfielder Willian as a direct replacement for fellow Brazilian teammate Paulinho.
The former Spurs man Paulinho signed for Barcelona just 12 months ago from the Chinese Super League for around £35 million, but with upgrades needed in order for the Catalan side to return to challenging for the Champions League title, he is expected to be one of the summer departures.
Brazil have used both Willian and Paulinho in all three of their opening World Cup group games and both are expected to play against Mexico on Monday – for a place in the quarter final. The Express say that Barcelona have already had offers in-excess of the £35 million that the club paid for him last summer, and that will all but surely see him leave the club as the Catalans will be in-profit for the 29-year old.
Willian has seemingly been linked with a move to rivals Manchester United ever since former Blues boss Jose Mourinho took the reigns at Old Trafford, but Barcelona’s apparent advances will cause major concern if United still harbour any interest. With no Champions League on-offer and appearances from the substitutes bench last season, Willian may be one of the more likely summer departures from west London.
Despite being rotated in and out of the starting line-up by boss Blues Antonio Conte, Willian featured in 36 Premier League matches this past season, scoring six and assisting eight, while also chipping in with three goals in the Champions League.
The Spanish report Mundo Deportivo (via the Express) do say that Willian is receptive to a switch to Spain and could link up with Brazilian teammate Coutinho – in what could be the start of a major reshuffle if and when Chelsea opt to replace the manager with Maurizio Sarri.