United tar­get Chelsea star Wil­lian

UNITED HOLD TALKS WITH CHELSEA STAR’S REP­RE­SEN­TA­TIVES

Manchester Evening News - - FRONT PAGE - By SA­MUEL LUCK­HURST

UNITED have held in­for­mal talks with Chelsea winger Wil­lian’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives ahead of the sum­mer trans­fer window.

The M.E.N. un­der­stands the Brazil­ian’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives held pre­lim­i­nary dis­cus­sions with United this month to gauge the pos­si­bil­ity of con­clud­ing a deal, with the sum­mer window open­ing to­day.

Jose Mour­inho brought Wil­lian, 29, to Chelsea in 2013 and at­tempted to re-sign the Brazil in­ter­na­tional in 2016, when he also made a sim­i­lar ap­proach to Wil­lian’s then-Chelsea team-mate Ne­manja Matic.

Wil­lian is con­tracted to Chelsea un­til 2020 but his age and the length of his deal mean his value will dwin­dle dras­ti­cally next year.

The for­mer Shakhtar Donetsk player is rep­re­sented by Kia Joorabchian – who United have not dealt with since Car­los Tevez left the club in 2009.

Although Mour­inho said he has no in­ten­tion of mak­ing at­tack­ing ad­di­tions this sum­mer, he is pre­pared to make an ex­cep­tion for Wil­lian.

The United at­tack is de­void of a right-wing spe­cial­ist, with Jesse Lin­gard and Juan Mata more pro­duc­tive through the mid­dle, while Mar­cus Rash­ford and Anthony Mar­tial have strug­gled to per­form there. Wil­lian turns 30 in De­cem­ber and is viewed as an ideal op­tion to bridge the gap be­tween academy tal­ent Tahith Chong grad­u­at­ing from the U23s into the first-team squad.

Mour­inho has spo­ken ef­fu­sively of Wil­lian since he was sacked by Chelsea two-and-a-half years ago in a cam­paign that Wil­lian was later voted the club’s player of the year.

Wil­lian’s com­mit­ment to Mour­inho ce­mented his trust and the Por­tuguese has twice at­tempted to re-sign him.

A draw­back of Wil­lian’s po­ten­tial switch is he could miss United’s en­tire pre-sea­son due to World Cup com­mit­ments but Mour­inho is confident Wil­lian’s Premier League ex­pe­ri­ence would al­low him to slot into the United squad seam­lessly.

“FI­NALS are not for play­ing – they are for win­ning.”

In a sea­son where Jose Mour­inho’s meth­ods, phi­los­o­phy and play­ing style have rightly been ques­tioned, United chiefs would not want any­one else in the dugout for Satur­day’s FA Cup fi­nal against Chelsea.

The Por­tuguese has a re­mark­able record on the big oc­ca­sion and has won 12 of his 14 cup fi­nals since lift­ing the UEFA Cup with Porto way back in 2003.

That is an 86 per cent win per­cent­age in one-off games where the pres­sure is never greater. So how does he do it? One of the open se­crets of Mour­inho’s suc­cess through­out the years is how he ap­proaches a fi­nal in the same man­ner he would a thir­dround clash with Derby County – tak­ing the pres­sure off his play­ers in the process.

There is no ex­tra de­tail in the scout­ing re­ports the play­ers are handed in the days be­fore­hand, the team talk does not nec­es­sar­ily carry greater emo­tion.

In fact, as al­ways, Mour­inho leaves it to a player or col­league to have the fi­nal word in the dress­ing room on the grand­est stage.

But there is a com­mon thread through­out his time with Porto, Chelsea, In­ter, Real Madrid and United – en­joy­ing the cel­e­bra­tions rather than the fi­nal it­self.

Do­ing what­ever it takes – per­son­nel or phi­los­o­phy-wise – to get the win.

It has got to the point now where the op­po­si­tion are ex­pect­ing Mour­inho to pull some­thing out of the hat as for­mer player Thibaut Cour­tois touched on.

“I think he al­ways has sur­prises,” the Chelsea goal­keeper said. “I think in the games he played against us he al­ways had dif­fer­ent sys­tems to play.

“Some­times he played three at the back, some­times four, some­times he had a way to block our two wingers so he will al­ways find some­thing to be at his best.”

De­spite the op­po­si­tion of­ten dom­i­nat­ing pos­ses­sion, as Bayern Mu­nich did in the 2010 Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal and Ajax did in the Europa League fi­nal last year, Mour­inho al­ways feels that his side are in con­trol and he has never lost a fi­nal in nor­mal time.

The play­ers feed off that – nat­u­rally rais­ing their game on the big stage and bounc­ing off Mour­inho’s biggame record – with­out nec­es­sar­ily de­liv­er­ing one of the great fi­nal per­for­mances.

Tellingly, only four of his fi­nal wins have come with a mar­gin greater than a sin­gle goal, which points to another tight af­fair.

United fans would rather be pre­par­ing for a Cham­pi­ons League fi­nal, but Mour­inho will treat this clash with Chelsea in the same man­ner he would fac­ing Real Madrid in Kiev.

One of Mour­inho’s proud­est ever achieve­ments was win­ning the FA Cup for the first, and only, time back in 2007 and climb­ing those fa­mous steps as a vic­tor in one of foot­ball’s old­est tour­na­ments.

Mour­inho grew up watch­ing the com­pe­ti­tion on tele­vi­sion with his fa­ther, even sup­port­ing Coven­try in the 1987 fi­nal, and bad­gered Sir Bobby Rob­son for sto­ries of his cup runs with Ip­swich when he worked as his as­sis­tant.

Now he has the chance to go one bet­ter than his men­tor and win the FA Cup for the sec­ond time – and he will be des­per­ate to do it.

Jose Mour­inho will face An­to­nio Conte at Wem­b­ley this week­end

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