Wil­lian’s Chelsea pledge ends Barca talk

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Total Football - At Stam­ford Bridge

Wil­lian dis­patched New­cas­tle with a win­ner wor­thy of a less hum­drum game and then out­lined why he in­tended to stay at Chelsea in spite of in­ter­est from Barcelona.

The Brazil winger is now in the 30-and-over bracket, which means a con­tract that has 18 months to run would be only mod­er­ately ex­tended un­der cur­rent club pol­icy.

Wil­lian made it clear, how­ever, that he would pre­fer that to a switch to the Span­ish lead­ers, who were will­ing to of­fer fel­low coun­try­man Mal­com plus more than £30mil­lion to land him. “Yeah, I have seen that, but my fu­ture is here,” he said of the Barcelona link. “I want to stay un­til my con­tract is fin­ished. My head is here. My fo­cus is here.

“Would I like a new con­tract? Of course. I am adapted here after 5½ years, a lot of ti­tles, I am very happy. So, if they want me to sign, of course I want that. Chelsea is a great team, to play for Chelsea you have to put your mind to win­ning ti­tles ev­ery year. Some­times, one year it does not hap­pen, but the sec­ond it does.”

Good luck with that. A vic­tory that left New­cas­tle in the bot­tom three gave Chelsea a six-point cush­ion ahead of fifth-placed Arse­nal and moved them to three points off Manch­ester City, yet it was ob­vi­ous that ev­ery­thing is far from rosy in the gar­den be­ing cul­ti­vated by Mau­r­izio Sarri.

The Ital­ian has con­stantly talked of the need to im­prove the “men­tal­ity” of play­ers who have de­vel­oped a habit of fad­ing alarm­ingly for no dis­cernible rea­son, and they did so again in this game.

Pe­dro gave Chelsea a ninth-minute lead with a lofted fin­ish from David Luiz’s long ball over the top of a five-man mid­field but, with Eden Haz­ard anony­mous in the “false-nine” role he does not like, New­cas­tle de­servedly lev­elled be­fore half-time through Ciaran Clark’s header from a cor­ner.

In the only por­tion of the game when Haz­ard did look lively, the Bel­gian set up Wil­lian for a curled fin­ish just be­fore the hour mark that turned out to be just enough to seal a laboured vic­tory. Sarri ad­mit­ted Haz­ard had not looked like he was en­joy­ing him­self in the first half, but ar­gued that the team were “more bal­anced” with him in the cen­tral strik­ing role in­stead of Olivier Giroud, who re­placed him for the fi­nal three min­utes, or Al­varo Morata, who was left out of the squad. £50mil­lion of his own money to get them back up [from the Cham­pi­onship].

“You can’t ham­mer him and say that he should be spend­ing when he wants to sell the club.

“What are New­cas­tle’s aims? They can’t be aim­ing at be­ing a Manch­ester United or a Manch­ester City. They’ve got to aim to be a Bournemouth.”

But New­cas­tle fans ac­cused Fer­di­nand of a con­flict of in­ter­est be­cause the bil­lion­aire sells Fer­di­nand’s own cloth­ing brand FIVE ex­clu­sively at his re­tail branch Sports Di­rect.

But Fer­di­nand hit back, say­ing: “NUFC fans good morn­ing to you all!!! Ya clubs turn­ing a profit, no debt, oh & play­ing in the PL! Ter­ri­ble!”

Lev­er­ing on-loan Ju­ven­tus striker Gon­zalo Higuain away from AC Mi­lan would al­low Haz­ard to move into his favoured po­si­tion on the left and Sarri is also cross­ing his fin­gers that deals for mid­field­ers Ni­colo Barella, of Cagliari, or Zenit St Peters­burg’s Le­an­dro Pare­des can be sealed sooner rather than later.

Cesc Fabre­gas’s de­par­ture to Monaco left only 18-year-old Ethan Am­padu on the bench as a cen­tral-mid­field op­tion should Jorginho sud­denly start mis­fir­ing, which he did after just 20 min­utes.

“Maybe he was tired, I don’t know,” Sarri said. “But if Fabre­gas was on the bench in the sec­ond half, he would have been on the pitch in­stead of Jorginho.” Am­padu re­mained un­used.

Then there is the Cal­lum Hud­son-odoi co­nun­drum. Sarri sent on the 18-year-old for the fi­nal nine min­utes, and the Bay­ern Mu­nich tar­get was ser­e­naded by the home fans. Sarri of­fered a huge hint that stay­ing put would soon pay div­i­dends. “Odoi, in one or two months, will be at the same level as the other play­ers,” he said. What would Rafael Ben­itez give to have prob­lems like Sarri’s? The man who led Chelsea to Europa League glory in an oth­er­wise un­happy short spell in charge in 2013 knows his New­cas­tle team lack a cut­ting edge, but fears owner Mike Ash­ley, who was at the game, has no in­ten­tion of sign­ing a qual­ity goalscorer.

“The fi­nal third is where we have to spend the money,” Ben­itez said. “The big clubs are pay­ing 40 or 50 mil­lion for play­ers who make the dif­fer­ence. “When you work so hard, and one player makes the dif­fer­ence like Wil­lian or Pe­dro, there isn’t much you can do. “But if we work like we did and play with the same pas­sion and in­ten­sity then I be­lieve we will stay up,” he added.

“We will win against some teams, es­pe­cially in the bot­tom half of the ta­ble.”

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