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Willian: ‘I wasn’t motivated to train at Arsenal’

Willian: ‘I wasn’t motivated to train at Arsenal’

Former Arsenal attacker Willian has admitted that he did not feel “motivated” to train during his disappointing spell with the North London giants.

Mikel Arteta welcomed the Brazil international to the Emirates Stadium in 2020 after a breakdown in contract talks led to his departure from Chelsea.

The 34-year-old signed a three-year deal with the Gunners and provided two assists on his debut against Fulham at Craven Cottage, but he failed to make a long-lasting impression.

Willian made a total of 37 appearances during his time with Arsenal, during which he set up seven goals but only found the back of the net once – scoring a free kick against West Bromwich Albion.

The attacker’s deal was terminated to allow him to rejoin Corinthians on a free transfer, and having returned to the Premier League with Fulham, Willian has now opened up on his ill-fated time at Arsenal.

Willian warms up for Fulham in September 2022© Reuters

Speaking to The Athletic on his contract termination, Willian said: “I think I’m maybe the only player who has done something like this. Any other player in my situation would have stayed until the end of the contract and kept picking up the money. But I’m not like this.

“Money is not the most important thing in the world. I have to feel good, to feel motivated to go to training. I wasn’t having that there so I decided to leave.

“For most of the season, we were playing without fans. I didn’t see Arsenal fans. Maybe I needed to feel the buzz of the crowd, that it was something I missed. It was a difficult moment not just for me, but for everyone in the world.

“To play without fans at a new club is not easy. On my last day there, I spoke with the manager Mikel Arteta. I thanked him a lot for what he had done for me, for bringing me to Arsenal.

“I just wished him all the best. He is a good manager and I have great respect for Arsenal. They are doing well, they have good players. They can achieve good things this season.”

Corinthians' Willian pictured on October 6, 2021© Reuters

Willian was understood to have earned £200,000 per week at the Emirates Stadium, and he made 45 appearances in total for Corinthians during his second spell at the Brazilian club.

The ex-Chelsea and Shakhtar Donetsk man came up with just one goal and six assists back in his homeland before becoming a free agent again, which led to Fulham making a swoop for his signature.

Willian made his Cottagers debut off the bench in a 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur on September 3, and he was brought into the starting lineup by Marco Silva for the trip to Nottingham Forest last weekend.

The South American registered his first goal contribution for the Cottagers at the City Ground, with Tosin Adarabioyo heading home his corner in a 3-2 victory between the two newly-promoted sides.

Fulham sit sixth in the Premier League table with 11 points from their opening six games and are back in action against Newcastle United on October 1 at Craven Cottage following the international break.

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