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Mikel Arteta’s first words after Willian signs for Arsenal



Mikel Arteta says Willian’s ability to play across the frontline will make a real difference for Arsenal after the Brazilian completed his free transfer to the Gunners.

Willian, 32, has agreed a three year contract to join the Gunners after his deal with Chelsea expired and the Blues declined to offer him more than 24 months.

Arteta had been eager to add veteran presence to an attack that includes a host of promising youngsters and has lacked options in the No.10 role since Mesut Ozil was sidelined after the restart.

The Brazilian was predominantly deployed on the right wing during his seven years at Chelsea but is also capable of playing centrally or out on the left, key attributes that convinced Arteta to make him his first signing of the summer.

“I believe he’s a player that can really make a difference for us,” the Arsenal head coach said.

“We have been monitoring him for the past few months, we had a clear intention to strengthen in the attacking midfielder and the winger positions [and] he is a player that gives us a lot of versatility, he can play in three or four different positions.

“He has the experience of everything in the football world but to still have the ambition to come here and contribute to bring the club where it belongs. I have been really impressed with all the talks I have had with him and how much he wanted to come.”

Willian, who scored 63 goals and provided 62 assists in 339 games for Chelsea, is set to earn around £100,000-a-week during his time at Arsenal though he also will have received a sizeable signing on fee after joining as a free agent.

Arteta added: “It is many of his qualities [that appeal]. One is his ability to play in those tight spaces, his ability to play people through, to unlock, to drive with the ball and create overloads, he is a goal threat as well both in open play and with set pieces.

“Again, it is the character that I want, the kind of player that when things get difficult in the game that wants to take responsibility, wants the ball and wants to win the game for the team and I think it is going to be a really good lift for all the players as well in terms of the quality we are bringing to the squad.”

The Gunners are confident their deal with Willian will be imminently followed by a new three year contract for club captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

Arsenal also hope to strengthen Mikel Arteta’s midfield and defence this summer with Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid their first choice target for the former position.

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