Manchester United have spent the summer trying to persuade Inter Milan to sell them Croatian winger Ivan Perisic as Jose Mourinho aims to add more goals and creativity to his misfiring Manchester United squad.
Willian, one of Mourinho’s former Chelsea players has come out with the news that the Old Trafford club contacted his agent this summer hoping to lure the Brazilian to the Europa League winners in a move that would have excited the Manchester supporters but the Premier League Champions were having none of it.
Speaking to Goal, the 29-year-old winger said:
“There were a few conversations with my agent. I worked with Mourinho and I became his friend as well.
“He likes me a lot and I like him a lot as a coach and as a person. He has put his trust in me and in my work, and I was very grateful to him.
“Manchester came to me, they talked with my agent, but nothing happened, because Chelsea would not negotiate me in any way and I’m very happy at Chelsea.”
Manchester United were however allowed to sign Willian’s former teammate Nemanja Matic who is also 29 years of age and could be argued was a more crucial part of Antonio Conte’s title winning side last summer in a move that Conte has distanced himself from suggesting the deal was sanctioned without his consent.
Willian will be hoping he can become a more valued member of the Italian’s squad next season after seeing Pedro often picked ahead of the winger last season. The player, however, values the influence Conte has had at Chelsea and is content with life in London.
Comparing the two managers, Willian said:
“They are very different. Everyone has their way of working. Mourinho is a coach who likes more the ball practice, works the ball possession and makes short games.
“Conte likes to work the tactical and the physical part. Every coach has his way of working. Mourinho is a fantastic coach and won everything wherever he went.
“Conte is a fantastic coach too, because he won everything at Juventus and has already won the Premier League in his first year with Chelsea. Each one has his merits.
“[Conte] is a coach who works hard every day, works a lot of tactics and the physical part. In the last season, he transformed our team when he changed the formation to 3-4-3. We managed to assimilate very well what he asked us in the training sessions and things worked out.”
Having been successful in luring Nemanja Matic from Chelsea and knowing that if the price is right Roman Abramovich will be tempted to sell even if his manager may not approve, it may be worth keeping an eye on potential developments as Tuesday’s European Super Cup defeat to Real Madrid highlighted Manchester United’s need for a more attacking influence as a move for Gareth Bale looks to be dead in the water.
Damien McEvoy Pundit Arena
On this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish Football Podcast, we chat to former Bray Wanderers media officer Jillian Godsil, give our take on the ‘barstooler’ debate as well as review and preview the latest League of Ireland action.