Chelsea winger Willian has confirmed his departure from the west London club after seven years, thanking fans for their support in an emotional farewell post on social media.
The 32-year-old’s contract expired this summer and he was unable to agree fresh terms despite Frank Lampard being keen to keep him, with Chelsea’s hierarchy unwilling to offer him the length of deal he was looking for.
Willian has enjoyed a fine run of form since the season restart, enjoying the most prolific campaign of his career, and is expected to join Arsenal on a three-year deal imminently.
The Brazilian has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, the Carabao Cup and the Europa League during his time in west London and he has thanked Chelsea’s supporters for all their support – and even criticism – during the past seven years.
In an open letter to fans of Chelsea, he wrote on Instagram: ‘They were seven wonderful years. In August 2013 when I received the offer from Chelsea, I was convinced that this was where I had to play.
‘Today I am certain that it was the best of decisions. There were so many happy times, some sad, there were trophies and it was always very intense.
‘Yet, beyond the trophies, I learnt a lot about myself. I developed a great deal, becoming a better player and a better person.
‘With each training session, with each game, with every minute spent in the dressing room, I was always learning.
‘I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans for the affectionate way they welcomed me at Stamford Bridge and their support throughout my time at the club.
‘There was also criticism, which is normal, what is important though is that both the affection and criticism drove me to always give my all in every training session, every game, to be constantly improving until my very last minute in a Chelsea shirt!
‘The time has now come to move on. I am certainly going to miss my teammates. I will miss all the staff at the club who’ve always treated me like a son and I will miss the fans. I leave with my head held high, safe in the knowledge that I won things here and always did my best in a Chelsea shirt! ‘My heartfelt thanks go out to all of you and God bless you!’