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LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15: Willian of Chelsea celebrates after scoring his team's fourth goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Cardiff City at Stamford Bridge on September 15, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)

Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Chelsea winger Willian has praised coach Maurizio Sarri for his approach at the club and stated his mind was always on the Blues, despite persistent summer exit rumours. 

As reported by the Evening Standard‘s Simon Johnson, the Brazilian previously admitted he would have left the club if Antonio Conte had remained in charge but has now revealed he has rediscovered his joy at playing under Sarri:

“He wants us to play. You can see in the games the difference from last season. We play more, we have more possession, we enjoy, we have fun with responsibility. We win five games in a row, so we have to continue the same way.

“I’m happy with the new manager, with the new profile of football. We have a great team atmosphere. We have great players. We can do everything this season to win titles.

“I‘m very proud to stay and to be a Chelsea player. It’s an honour to play for this club. I’m very happy at Chelsea.

“Everyone knows what happened in the last transfer window, but my mind was always at Chelsea. It was always to play for Chelsea. Now with Sarri we have a different way to play football so we just want to enjoy and continue to play for this club.”

According to Football.London’s Greg Johnson, Willian was heavily linked with both Barcelona and Manchester United during the summer transfer window.

The 30-year-old invited much of the speculation himself when he took to social media last season and uploaded an image that had Conte covered by emojis. As shared by ESPN FC, analysts thought it meant either he or the Italian would leave, or possibly even both of them:

The Blues eventually replaced Conte with Sarri, who has relied on the Brazil international so far this season. Per WhoScored.com, he has made three starts and two more appearances off the bench in the Premier League.

Sarri was known at Napoli for relying on a small group of players throughout the season, and that would suggest Willian will continue to see lots of minutes this year. He and Pedro will likely rotate on one wing while Eden Hazard is the main man on the other.

Sarri has plenty of options out wide, as shared by Oliver Harbord of Football.London:

The Blues will be active in the Europa League, so there will be plenty of minutes to go around. Per Johnson, Willian is expected to start against PAOK on Thursday.

His solid form and heavy usage will likely mean transfer speculation disappears in the immediate future, although it remains to be seen how the Chelsea rotation will shake out ahead of January. 

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