Thiago Silva has now revealed he tried to bring Willian back to Chelsea towards the end of his spell at Arsenal.
Willian spent seven years at Stamford Bridge, making more than 300 appearances for Chelsea – before making the move to north London in 2020.
The Brazilian won two Premier League titles, the UEFA Europa League, the FA Cup and League Cup during his spell at West London club but struggled to make an impact at the Emirates.
Willian was at Arsenal for only 12 months and agreed to rip up his lucrative contract in order to force through a move to Corinthians.
After another brief stint in Brazil, the 34-year-old is now back in England at Fulham and even scored in their Premier League win against Chelsea last month.
Ahead of the return fixture on Friday, Chelsea defender Silva heaped praise on his ‘special’ compatriot and revealed he tried to bring him back to the club while he was at Arsenal.
‘Willian is special,’ Silva told ESPN Brazil. ‘I have a special affection for this kid, as a player and off the pitch as a person.
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‘Before he left for Corinthians, I tried to bring him back [to Chelsea], but unfortunately things didn’t advance, they didn’t work.
‘I knew he was a very important player. In our first game [against Fulham], he scored a goal against us, he’s having important performances with Fulham. ‘Hopefully on Friday he will be calmer.’
Willian has scored two goals and made two assists in 14 Premier League games this campaign, helping Fulham climb to seventh in the table.
On Friday, Marco Silva’s side visit a Chelsea side who are just 10th in the Premier League and 10 points outside the Champions League places.
‘Tomorrow hopefully we can go there and get at least one point,’ Willian said ahead of the west London derby.
‘But the main thing is to always – whether we’re at home or away – play to win the game. That’s what we want.’