Soccer

Former Arsenal star Paul Merson slams Chelsea over Willian transfer decision

Chelsea decision to let Willian join Arsenal has come under fire after the Brazilian made an immediate impact for his new club in the Premier League.

The Blues were keen to keep Willian at Stamford Bridge but failed to meet his demand of a new three-year deal and that opened the door for Arsenal to swoop in and take him on a free transfer.

Arsenal decision to hand the 33-year-old a long-term deal was questioned by some critics but he gave the best possible response to the doubters by providing two assists in the 3-0 win over Fulham on Saturday.

Without Willian, Chelsea laboured to a 3-1 win over Brighton with summer signings Timo Werner and Kai Havertz making their debuts.

Willian's fast start was in contrast to Havertz, who was off the pace at the Amex Stadium.

And Merson believes Chelsea have taken a gamble by not keeping hold of an experienced player in Willian and feels the Blues' summer spending has heaped the pressure on manager Frank Lampard to be successful this season.

"I cannot believe Chelsea let Willian go. I know they have gone out and got special players, but there is nothing to say they are going to hit the ground running," Merson told Sky Sports.

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Frank Lampard's team have made wavs by signing Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Ben Chilwell, Hakim Ziyech, Malang Sarr and Thiago Silva.

And they don't seem keen on slowing down yet. one player who continues to be linked with the Blues is West Ham and England midfielder Declan Rice.

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"In Willian, you have got someone there who is ready-made. I like who they have signed, but they cost a lot of money, and their wages are probably the same as Willian.

"Frank Lampard has to win now. He has not got four years. That's management, I'm not being horrible.

"Even if Frank wins the league this year, it does not mean he is going to be there in four years. We know that and how it changes.

"Who is to say this is not going to take time for Chelsea? And I don't think they've got time at the moment."

Speaking after his performance against Brighton, Havertz admitted he was not at his best having had just a few days of training with his new team-mates.

“It was a very tough game, very difficult because I had long holidays and I came back and trained for five or six days with the team,” Havertz said.

“More important is that we won so I am very happy to make my debut.

“The Premier League is much tougher than the Bundesliga. I have seen that in training and saw it in the game as well.

"But I am happy to play 80 minutes and hopefully next week I will continue.”

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