Skip to main content

Willian joins Chelsea as Bale switch moves closer

updated 2:46 PM EDT, Wed August 28, 2013
Willian is the first high-profile star to leave Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.
Willian is the first high-profile star to leave Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala.
  • Brazilian midfielder Willian joins Chelsea in a deal reported to be worth $46.5m
  • The 25-year-old had seemed destined for a switch to Tottenham Hotspur
  • Roma announce Erik Lamela is on his way to Tottenham for $39.9 million
  • Gareth Bale's move to Real Madrid edges closer admits Andre Villas-Boas

(CNN) -- At last it appears the pieces in soccer's latest transfer window jigsaw are slowly falling into place.

A pair of big-money moves involving English Premier League clubs on Wednesday could spark a frenzy of activity as Europe's leading clubs aim to finish their business before Tuesday's deadline.

London-based club Tottenham Hotspur are at the coalface as things stand, securing a $40 million deal shortly after missing out on another to rivals Chelsea.

All this with the potential world record transfer of their star player Gareth Bale to Spanish giants Real Madrid simmering in the background -- a move that manager Andre Villas-Boas admits is close.

Read: Fenerbahce's two-year European ban upheld

Mourinho returns to Chelsea
North Korean footballer big in Japan
Is Brazilian football sexist?

But while the two English clubs are splashing out lavish sums on new players, the teams they are buying from are resigned to having to offload their big names in a bid to balance the books.

Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala announced their intention to sell a swathe of their stars earlier this month, alerting both Chelsea and Tottenham to the availability of Brazilian midfielder Willian.

The 25-year-old appeared to be set for a move to Tottenham, but Chelsea swooped in to hijack the deal and on Wednesday announced it had been completed, for a fee reported to be $46.5 million.

It means manager Jose Mourinho has ten midfielders at his disposal and raises the prospect that Spanish playmaker Juan Mata, who hasn't featured in Chelsea's first two games of the season, might be sold.

Willian told Chelsea's official website: "Chelsea are one of the best clubs in the world, and now I'm going to play for one of the best managers in the world.

"It's been my dream to come to play here. Chelsea was always my first choice.

"Finally it's become a reality, and when the offer came I never gave a thought to anybody else, I said to myself that I would run here, and I'm happy to be here now."

It's been my dream to come to play here. Chelsea was always my first choice

Chelsea are still in the market for Manchester United and England striker Wayne Rooney, who played for the English champions against Chelsea in their goalless draw on Monday night.

The striker was afforded a fine reception by the home supporters, and took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to thank them for their support, the biggest hint yet that he might opt to stay at Old Trafford.

Tottenham's frustration at missing out on Willian might have been eased by a new signing of their own, as Italian club AS Roma announced midfielder Erik Lamela was set to join them for a fee of $39.9 million.

At the same time the club confirmed the signing of Adam Ljajic from fellow Serie A side Fiorentina for $14.5 million, who is expected to fill the gap left by Lamela, from Argentina.

New York Cosmos' grand plans
A new direction for boy band singer?
Beckham appearance causes stampede

Lamela's acquisition means Tottenham have broken their transfer record three times in the close season, after the arrivals of Paulinho from Corinthians and Roberto Soldado from Valencia.

They have also signed Toulouse midfielder Etienne Capoue and Belgian winger Nacer Chadli as Villas-Boas overhauls his squad in the face of Bale's departure.

The Welshman's move to Real appears to be moving closer given Tottenham's transfer outlay, Villas-Boas telling a news conference on Wednesday it could happen "very soon."

But the Portuguese also registered his disappointment that Bale has missed several training sessions as the saga unfolded.

"He is involved in a big transfer move to Real Madrid and in the end if it happens, we wish him all the best, but the fact that he hasn't turned up is not the correct behavior," Villas-Boas told reporters.

"That is the position they chose to take and it's up to the club to decide if it's a fineable offense."

As for how quickly Bale's switch to Spain could be concluded Villas-Boas added: "It could happen very, very soon.

"Will he be in tomorrow? I don't know. I'm not really in control of the situation I've left it up to the club to decide what they want to do.

"It's up to Gareth (whether he wants to come back again). He has a good relationship with everybody and he has saluted the players the other day, myself included."

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:23 AM EST, Tue December 16, 2014
After 20 years, more than 300 goals and a host of major honors, Thierry Henry has called time on his glittering football career.
updated 5:14 AM EST, Fri December 19, 2014
They do things differently at Sociedad Deportiva Eibar, up in the mist-cloaked valleys of the Basque country. And it is working.
updated 8:53 AM EST, Wed December 10, 2014
He might be struggling to score goals for Liverpool, but Mario Balotelli's cheeky tweet about the British monarch hit the spot during the World Cup.
updated 8:53 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
How Real Madrid's new stadium will look
They splash the cash on the world's best players, now Real Madrid are giving the Bernabeu the same treatment with a bling makeover.
updated 9:09 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Football world mourns South African captain Senzo Meyiwa who was shot and killed during a botched robbery in a township near Johannesburg.
updated 9:48 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
A man as a Roman centurion and who earn his living by posing with tourists gestures in front of the Colosseum during a protest where some of his colleagues climbed on the monument on April 12, 2012 in Rome. The costumed centurions are asking for the right to work there after they were banned following a decision by local authorities.
From the ancient ruins of Rome, a new empire rises. But the eyes of the city's newest gladiator light up at thoughts of the Colosseum.
updated 12:22 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Once part of Germany's largest Jewish sports club, now he's the first ISIS suspect to stand trial in a country left shocked by his alleged radicalization.
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Fri October 17, 2014
One goal in eight matches for new club Liverpool, and dumped by the Italian national team -- Mario Balotelli has yet to shine on his English return.
updated 2:19 PM EDT, Sat October 18, 2014
Ched Evans smiles during the Wales training session ahead of their UEFA EURO 2012 qualifier against England on March 25, 2011 in Cardiff, Wales.
Should a convicted rapist, who has served their time in prison, be allowed to resume their old job? What if that job was as a high-profile football player?
updated 8:47 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
After 10 years of golden glory, it's easy to see how Lionel Messi has taken his place among the football gods.
updated 6:34 AM EDT, Thu October 16, 2014
A football fan wipes a tear after Inter Milan's Argentinian defender Javier Zanetti has greeted fans following the announcement of his retirement before the start of the Italian seria A football match Inter Milan vs Lazio, on May 10, 2014, in San Siro Stadium In Milan
When will the tears stop? A leading Italian football club is pursuing a new direction -- under the guidance of its new Indonesian owner.
updated 6:41 PM EDT, Mon October 13, 2014
Norwegian 15-year-old Martin Odegaard is the youngest player ever to feature in a European Championships qualifying match.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Fri October 10, 2014
After revolutionizing cricket with its glitzy Twenty20 league, India has now thrown large sums of money at a new football venture.
updated 10:53 AM EDT, Thu October 2, 2014
Get ruthless. That is Rio Ferdinand's message to soccer's authorities in the fight to tackle the scourge of racism.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
A picture taken on May 16, 2014 shows 15-year-old Norwegian footballer Martin Oedegaard of club Stroemsgodset IF cheering during a match in Drammen, Norway. Oedegaard is set to become Norways youngest player ever in the national football team.
He's just 15 and the world is seemingly already at his feet. Norway's Martin Odegaard is being sought by Europe's top clubs.