Former Arsenal goalkeeper Mat Ryan has made the revelation that Willian impressed him during his spell with the Gunners despite being underwhelming during matches.
The Brazil winger joined Arsenal from rivals Chelsea in 2020 but his performances left a lot to be desired and he eventually left the Emirates Stadium to rejoin Corinthians in August 2021.
But former Gunners keeper Ryan said that the attacker was a great performer during training and that he was ‘respected’.
In an interview with Mail Online, the 29-year-old said: “Technically, one that really stands out was Willian. I know he didn't have the greatest of times there, but within the squad he was so respected and did his best.
“Everyone loved him and we all recognised what he brought to the team. I know he got criticised quite a bit, but on a technical finishing level in training and exercises such as penalties and free-kicks, he was definitely up there with your [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Alexandre] Lacazette, [Nicolas] Pepe and [Bukayo] Saka.”
Ryan joined Arsenal from Brighton in 22 January 2021 for a loan until the end of the season and eventually made the move to Real Sociedad.
Like Willian, Ryan left during the summer although it was thought that the goalkeeper would have been given a full-time deal at the end.
But the contract didn’t come and instead Arsenal opted for a deal with Sheffield United stopper Aaron Ramsdale, who’s now become Mikel Arteta’ s number one.
Was Arsenal right to move on Willian so soon? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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Ryan said that the contract took too long to come and so it decided to make the move to Spain instead.
“We just weren't hearing anything, it was really silent and at a certain point I was getting some other interest," he added.
“It didn't eventuate into a concrete opportunity after the loan spell and my decision was made for me. Our understanding was that they were looking for a homegrown goalkeeper from the conversations we had with them.”
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