Mikel Arteta says Willian’s appetite to add even more trophies to his haul of honours was key to his decision to switch Chelsea for Arsenal this summer.
And it was that desire for more after seven trophy-laden years in west London that convinced Arteta that the two-time Premier League winner would be the perfect addition to his young squad, despite having already turned 32.
Willian made his full debut for the Gunners on Saturday and showed there is still plenty of life left in him yet, setting up two goals as Fulham were brushed aside 3-0 at Craven Cottage. The Brazilian earned the man-of-the-match award for his performance.
It was a sparkling display from the new boy, who won two Premier League titles, the FA Cup, League Cup and the Europa League during his seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge.
For some players who have enjoyed such success, their desire to stay at the top level and win even more could diminish as they approach the latter stages of their career, which is why so many now head to the United States or the Middle East before retirement.
But when Arteta met with Willian to discuss a move across the capital earlier in the summer, he says it was clear how much the attacking midfielder still wanted to achieve.
‘With some players when that [winning trophies] happened they have a full stomach but with Willian I got the opposite feeling, that he wanted more and how he wanted to move to a different club and get to the level that he got before,’ said Arsenal’s manager.
‘So, I’m really pleased because he showed [at Fulham] how much he really wants it and how much he is going to drive the other players on in order to achieve that.’
It’s clear that Willian has settled in well to his new surroundings at Arsenal and has already made himself a respected figure at his new club.
And Arteta believes the winning mentality the Brazilian brings following such a successful spell at Chelsea will rub off on his new teammates at Emirates Stadium.
‘That’s what we’re expecting,’ said the Gunners boss.
‘We have a lot of young players with a big talent and a big future but they need some role models and I think Willian is a really good one to have around the place because he doesn’t talk much in the dressing room, but he does on the pitch and that’s a good way to do it.’
After such a positive end to last season, which culminated with an FA Cup triumph over Chelsea at Wembley, it was important for Arsenal to get their new season off to a fast start at Craven Cottage on Saturday.
And the convincing 3-0 win, with Alexandre Lacazette, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and new signing Gabriel on target, did just that.
It was another impressive performance from Arteta’s side, one which featured some excellent football, and Arteta says he is well aware of his team’s need to try and entertain when they can.
‘It’s the DNA of this football club and how I was raised as a football player, so I don’t see it any other way,’ said the Spaniard. ‘But as well we have to be efficient and we need to adapt.
‘Sometimes we can do certain things against certain opponents and another match we have to do something different because the thing that I like most is winning.
‘I want to get the team to a level that performs as high as the team can perform and be the best as we can be.
‘We’ve done it in one match, there are still a lot of things we need to improve collectively and individually as well.
‘We have another week now to train and next week we go again. What I see is they [the players] are not happy with the last two trophies, they want more and they want to speed up this process and hopefully they are enjoying it as well.
‘Time will tell where we are at the end of the season, my only aim is to get things right for the next weekend and keep going.’
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