Chelsea and Tottenham are set to begin a bidding war over Anzhi Makhachkala midfielder Willian, according to the Metro. In a bizarre turn of events, the 24-year-old Brazilian international is eager to leave the Russian Premier League only months after a massive £30m January move.
Both London clubs were strongly linked to Willian during the winter transfer window but neither was ultimately able to compete, financially, with Anzhi. Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas revealed his disappointment at losing the South American and, in a somewhat prophetic moment, hinted that the decision may not be in Willian's best interests, professionally speaking.
"He has moved to a league which is the same as the Ukrainian league. It's a pity that a player of that talent cannot move to a better league because his talent deserves that, but I wish him well at Anzhi," the Portuguese said at the time.
And it has so transpired, with Willian now saying he remains keen to play for a "big" club. The midfielder also revealed he was afraid of being left out of selection for the Brazilian national team, particularly with the 2014 FIFA World Cup around the corner.
"Anzhi were the only ones who agreed to pay my release clause. I have enormous affection and respect for this club, but everybody knows that my dreams and desires haven't changed," Willian explained.
"I have the goal of playing for a big club and being in the spotlight to rejoin the Brazil national team but for now I am an Anzhi player, and I intend to keep playing here with a calm mind," he concluded.
The report claims the situation has alerted both Chelsea and Spurs, who are understood to have retained an interest in his services. Willian's stock rose after a series of impressive displays in the group stages of the Champions League last season, including two against Chelsea.
However, the extent of Chelsea's interest remains to be seen. Their pursuit of Willian in January was when interim boss Rafael Benitez was at the helm. With Jose Mourinho in charge now, and £18m spent on German international Andre Schürrle (a similar player) the Blues may opt to focus all their attention on Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney.
Spurs, on the other hand, could be extremely interested, particularly since it appears Welsh international Gareth Bale is now more than likely to leave north London for Real Madrid. The Mirror believes a £105m player/cash deal between the two clubs has been agreed.
Meanwhile, the midfielder confirmed his former club, Shakhtar Donetsk turned down several offers from Premier League clubs in January.
"I tried to leave Shakhtar for over a year, but couldn't do it. I had offers from big English clubs and from other places, but Shakhtar never accepted them. I wanted very badly to go to England, but I have no regrets and couldn't wait any longer to leave Shakhtar. They use to tell me one thing and then act otherwise," the midfielder explained.