Ex-Premier League winger Willian has revealed that Jose Mourinho tried to reunite at AS Roma before he left Arsenal last summer. The Portuguese manager was vying for Willian’s signature before he cancelled his Gunners contract and agreed a return to Corinthians in his homeland Brazil.
Mourinho sanctioned the 33-year-old’s arrival in England in 2013, signing him for Chelsea in a £30million deal from Anzhi Makhachkala.
Willian outlasted his coach at Stamford Bridge, registering 63 goals and 62 assists in 339 appearances before leaving on a free transfer to Arsenal in 2020.
But he endured a dismal stint at their London rivals, scoring just one goal on top of seven assists in 37 games before departing just a year later.
And Willian has since revealed that Mourinho attempted to sign him for a second time following his Emirates Stadium exit.
“When I was in negotiations with Corinthians, I received an offer from Lyon,” Willian told FourFourTwo.
“Milan were also interested, and my agent spoke to Jose Mourinho, who wanted to take me to Roma.
“He’s a great friend of mine, but things with Corinthians progressed faster, and I thought it would be nice to return to Brazil. I got a lot of messages asking me to come – you could see people were really excited about it.
“Besides that, it was also a chance to move closer to the national team’s radar, so I talked to my wife and daughters, and they were all on board, which made the decision easier.”
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Willian also explained why he cancelled his Arsenal contract, suggesting he would rather be happy than earn more from playing football.
He continued: “There are moments in life when the money isn’t so important, and you need to focus on what makes you happy; to look for a place where you have some pleasure working.
“That’s something I didn’t have there, and staying only for the money isn’t something I’m capable of doing – there are many other things that come first for me.
“I thought to myself that I couldn’t stay just because of a contract – after all if I did, where would my motivation, my pleasure and my well-being go?
“So that’s what I had in mind. Everybody saw what I left behind in order to pursue my happiness again.”
Since returning to Corinthians, Willian has scored one goal and provided two assists in 13 games.
And Mourinho could do with more attacking firepower at Roma, with the club currently in seventh in Serie A, outside the European places.
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