Antonio Conte need to give Willian more chances to shine in the Chelsea team, according to Ray Wilkins.
Former England stalwart Wilkins is a massive admirer of the Brazilian player and believes that the attacking midfielder could bolster Chelsea’s title challenge.
Willian was an integral part of the title-winning Chelsea side last season but this campaign has seen less game time and spent more time on the bench.
The South American playmaker has made just seven starts in this Premier League season, with seven appearances coming from the substitutes bench.
Compare this to last season’s triumphant side when Willian made 34 appearances and bagged eight goals.
Wilkins credited the Brazilian for getting Chelsea over the line last year and the retired midfielder insisted thatConte must start playing Willian more.
Wilkins told SportingBet:
“I’m an enormous fan of Willian. He dragged that Chelsea team over the finish line a couple of seasons ago.
“He’s a wonderful player. Against Qarabag he was absolutely outstanding. His goal was a fluke, no doubt about it, but he’s got another point for the club.
“He should be playing more but it’s a game of opinions, and the only one that matters is the manager.”
Willian has been at Chelsea for nearly five years and has averaged around 30 games a season having made nearly 150 appearances during his Blues career so far.
This season has seen the Brazilian fall out of favour even though the his attitude can’t be faulted.
The winger recently made the difference in the Champions League game against FC Qarabag and his excellent goal against rivals Liverpool salvaged a point in the 1-1 draw between the clubs.
Conte has used him sparingly so far this season, but with the January transfer window opening soon and the World Cup approaching giving more players a reason to want to play more, the Italian may have a problem on his hands should Willian look to force a move.
Antonio Conte has nothing against Chelsea star, insists Pat Nevin
Antonio Conte has nothing against Willian despite the Chelsea star’s lack of first-team football, Pat Nevin has claimed.
The Brazilian midfielder was a key member of the Chelsea team that won the Premier League title under Jose Mourinho in the 2014-15 season before he was named the club’s player of the year despite a difficult campaign for the west London outfit in 2015-16.
However, Antonio Conte’s appointment as Mourinho’s permanent successor has seen Willian fall out of favour at Stamford Bridge behind Pedro Rodriguez and Cesc Fabregas.
Indeed, Willian scored eight goals and made two assists in 15 starts and 19 substitute appearances as Chelsea won the Premier League title in their first season under Conte.
The 29-year-old’s fortunes haven’t improved this season with Willian being limited to seven starts and seven appearances from the bench.
However, former Chelsea winger Nevin believes the South American playmaker still has an important role to play at Stamford Bridge despite a tough spell in his Blues career.
“I don’t think he has anything against Willain,” Nevin told Irish radio station Newstalk.
“When he plays a different system, he will play Willain some of the time. He looked a little bit disinterested at the start of the season but he is flying now.”
Chelsea won the Premier League title with two games to spare last season after finishing seven points clear of their closest challengers Tottenham, Hotspur.
The Blues signed six players in the summer transfer window ahead of their return to the Champions League.