With Shakhar safely through to the knockout stages of the Champions League and having been one of the most impressive sides in the group stages despite a tough draw, they might have assumed their best players would be happy to stay in the Ukraine at least until the summer.
However Willian has made it clear that he wants a move away from the Donbass Arena despite their fine season, and with Shakhtar signing Taison perhaps as a replacement, Willian could be on the move if their asking price is met this month.
That asking price is believed to be £20 million, and if Shakhtar are determined to hold out for that amount, then it will have a big impact on Juventus and Tottenham Hotspur’s chances of signing the player.
Neither of those sides is poor, but splashing out £20 million on a player in January would be a significant departure from their previous dealings in the transfer market. Both of them will have to hope that Chelsea’s interest is not strong enough to pay that price either, and then they might be able to negotiate the fee with Shakhtar towards the end of the window.
How keen Chelsea are on a mid season bid for the player could be the key factor in deciding where Willian ends up. The Blues were reportedly very close to signing Taison before he went to Shakhtar, indicating they are keen to bring in another attacking midfielder despite the amount of players they already have in that position. If they do want Willian, you can expect he will end up at Stamford Bridge, as Chelsea have demonstrated many times they will pay whatever is required to get the man they want.
If Chelsea don’t enter the fray, then Tottenham Hotspur might be favourites to sign Willian. The player has an existing relationship with Andre Villas-Boas, and if the transfer fee can be reduced then Spurs would be very keen to sign the Brazilian.
Perhaps the most likely option is still that Willian will stay at Shakhtar. The Ukrainian club are not desperate to sell him despite his trouble making, and might hope that once the window passes Willian will refocus on the second half of the season with them.
Wherever Willian ends up at the end of the window, you can expect that he will not be very far from the headlines over the next couple of weeks, and if Chelsea in particular are keen to sign the Brazilian, he could well be in London by February.
image: © jbl767