When Brazilian midfielder Willian rejoined his childhood club Corinthians after ending an ill-fated spell at Arsenal last August, those close to him talked of the move as a dream come true.
Never truly finding his feet at the Emirates, Willian struggled to match the form he had shown during his seven seasons at Chelsea – where he won two Premier League titles.
By the end of his time with the Gunners, both the club and the player himself were keen to part ways, to the point that Willian actually agreed to tear up his Arsenal contract.
That move would cost him a reported £20 million in lost wages, but did clear the way for him to re-sign for Corinthians – his very first club all the way back in 2006.
It was touted as a triumphant homecoming, with Willian’s father telling media at the time, via ESPN: “There are things money can’t buy. Playing for Corinthians is priceless.”
Some nine months later, though, things haven’t quite worked out as the Willian camp was hoping.
The team over at Goal recently took a look at Willian’s progress since returning to South America – and the news is hardly positive.
A slow start to life in Brazil
Willian’s return to action with Corinthians was delayed almost immediately after signing, as he was hit by a two-week suspension for not following COVID-19 protocols.
This meant that he couldn’t make his debut until mid-September, hardly ideal given that his last start for Arsenal came close to five months earlier.
Clearly lacking match sharpness, Willian’s contributions for his new side were lacklustre to say the least.
Entering a series of under-par performances, he only managed to complete the full 90 minutes once in nine outings last season and failed to find the back of the net in any of those games.
This term, first-team opportunities have been more plentiful. That said, Willian still only has one goal and one assist to his name since his return.
As a team, Corinthians were dumped out of the Paulista state championship in the semi-finals by fierce rivals Sao Paulo – something that naturally did not go down well with their fanbase.
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In fact, some supporters have already begun to turn on the club’s superstar signing, with a minority taking their grievances well beyond acceptable boundaries.
It was only back in March that Willian spoke out about the growing problem of fan violence in Brazilian football on Instagram.
Just a short while later, he and his family would become the target of online abuse and receive a number of sickening threats.
“One said that he would set fire to his car and targeted Willian on Instagram,” the player’s father revealed. “There, he talked about his daughters and his family.”
Those chilling words prompted Willian to confine his family to their Sao Paulo home and are believed to have left the player strongly considering his future in Brazil.
Still only 33 years of age, Willian would likely have a number of suitors in Europe keen to secure his services.
His return to his homeland was supposed to be the fairytale ending to an impressive career. However, as it stands today, nothing could be further from reality.
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