LONDON: The Russian connection has enabled Chelsea to gazump Tottenham and sign Brazilian attacking midfielder Willian from Anzhi Makhachkala.
The 25-year-old Brazilian was poised to join Tottenham after undergoing a medical on Wednesday. But then Chelsea swept him away to Stamford Bridge on Thursday to agree a matching £30m fee and personal terms.
Completion of the deal depends on a work permit hearing next week. Willian (Borges da Silva) has played only twice for Brazil’s senior national team in the past two years. He is believed to have changed his mind on the basis of Chelsea’s presence in the Champions League.
The transfer switch followed a call from Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich to fellow Russian oligarch Suleyman Kerimov who is currently conducting a fire sale at Anzhi ahead of UEFA’s enforcement of its financial fair play regulations.
Willian will become the Europa League holders’ third major summer acquisition after Germany forward Andre Schurrle and Holland midfielder Marco Van Ginkel.
Willian, born on Augsut 9, 1988, began his career with Corinthians of Sao Paulo then moved to Europe with Shakhtar Donetsk in 2007. He won four Ukraine league titles as well as the 2009 UEFA Cup before joining Anzhi only in January for £30m.
He was a member of the Brazil Under-20 side who won the 2007 South American Youth Championship, alongside Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva, and made his senior debut against Gabon in November 2011.