Chelsea winger Willian is understood to have rejected the offer of a three-year contract to play for Inter Miami, the MLS franchise co-owned by David Beckham.
The Brazilian signed a temporary contract extension with Chelsea until the end of the coronavirus-delayed 2019/20 season but is expected to move on this summer – preferably to a club in Europe – having failed to come to an agreement over a longer term deal.
The Telegraph report that Willian was offered a three-year contract worth in excess of £100,000-per-week by Inter Miami to head to North America, which would have taken the former Shakhtar Donetsk star through to the end of the 2023 MLS season – also making him one of the best paid players in the league.
With Willian due to turn 32 next month, multi-year deals can be difficult to come by for players of his age, which is thought to be the main reason he was unable to agree an extension with Chelsea.
Miami, who are debuting in Major League Soccer this season, have only used two of the three ‘Designated Player’ spots available to them – it is the rule, sometimes nicknamed the ‘Beckham Rule’ that was introduced when the former England captain joined LA Galaxy in 2007, allowing clubs to pay a certain number of players over and above the normal MLS salary cap.
But the Telegraph writes that Willian rejected the offer because he wants to remain in Europe.
It is not ruled out that the former Anzhi Makachkala winger could yet remain at Chelsea beyond this season. He is thought to be biding his time before he makes a final decision, which could be influenced by which clubs have Champions League football to offer.
Willian has previously been linked with Premier League rivals Tottenham, who initially tried to sign from Anzhi ahead of Chelsea back in 2013. In February, the player revealed in a feature for The Players’ Tribune that he remains friendly and in personal contact with former Chelsea boss and current Spurs coach Jose Mourinho.
“We had a special relationship. He demanded a lot, so there were some conflicts, but that’s normal. He would challenge me and call out my mistakes, but if I had played well, he would also say something like, ‘Today you killed it’,” he explained.
“I loved his man management, how he organised training, how he spoke in meetings. I learned a lot from him. Even after he left Chelsea, he spoke well of me. We are still friends. Sometimes we exchange messages.”