‘He is a player who does not miss matches… he can drive this club forward’: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta backs veteran Willian to prove his long term worth after 32-year-old’s summer arrival on three-year-deal worth £220,000-a-week
- Willian raised eyebrows after penning long term deal at the Gunners
- The winger signed from Chelsea where he started 38 games last season
- But Mikel Arteta believes the desire and ambition from Willian will shine through
- Arsenal take on Everton to begin their Premier League campaign on Saturday
Mikel Arteta admits his own experience does not provide the finest example but expects Willian to make a long-term contribution at Arsenal.
The three-year deal signed by the 32-year-old Brazilian is a culture shift at a club where the policy for many years under Arsene Wenger was to offer players over 30 deals of no more than 12 months.
‘Don’t compare him to me, I am a bad example,’ said Arteta, who retired at the age of 34 and barely played in the Premier League during the final 18 months of his career.
Willian trains with his Arsenal team-mates on Friday ahead of their clash with Everton
Gunners boss Arteta has backed his summer arrival to make a lasting impact at the Emirates
‘He is much better than me and he is much fitter than me. He has experience in this league and he is always available. He is a player who does not miss football matches.
‘In all the conversations I had with him, the things that stood out were his ambition and his willingness to be the man who can drive this club forward and be a big part of it.’
Willian started 38 games for Chelsea last season and came on nine times as a substitute.
The 32-year-old signed a three-year-deal worth £220,000-per-week after his Chelsea exit
Arteta believes the Brazilian’s experience will prove invaluable to the Gunners’ dressing room
Arsenal were criticised for snapping him up on a free and giving him a three-year contract worth £220,000 a week soon after announcing 55 redundancies.
‘We need a balance in this squad,’ said Arteta. ‘We have some really young talent and they need experienced players who they can just put their shirts on and start performing.’
Arteta’s main injury problems are in central defence for Saturday’s fixture at Fulham, with David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Pablo Mari, Calum Chambers and Sokratis ruled out.
Fulham v Arsenal, kicks off at 12.30pm LIVE on BT Sport 1.