Arsenal have confirmed Willian has left the club by mutual consent, with the Brazilian set to return home to join Corinthians.
Willian joined the Gunners on a free after leaving London rivals Chelsea, signing a three-year deal to make the move to Emirates Stadium.
The 33-year-old made 37 appearances in all competitions during the 2020-21 season, scoring just the one goal from 27 shots.
He did set up seven goals for team-mates, easily outperforming his expected assists total of 3.14, with two of them coming from dead-ball situations.
However, Willian only made four Premier League starts after the turn of the year as Mikel Arteta went with alternative options in his team.
After what the club described as “positive and constructive” discussions between all parties, Willian agreed to terminate a contract that was due to run until 2023.
“Everyone at Arsenal wishes Willian and his family well for the future,” Arsenal said in a statement, adding he was heading for a “new opportunity” with Corinthians, the club where he started his professional career.
A two-time Premier League winner during his time at Chelsea, the player has reportedly opted to tear up his deal, rather than negotiate a pay-off.
Willian appeared to confirm as much in a statement on social media, during which he took the opportunity to take aim at his critics, as well as reflect on the many years he has spent in England.
“Unfortunately things on the pitch didn’t go the way we had all planned and hoped, I received a lot of criticism, especially from some members of the press, that I had come here for financial reasons… I hope with my actions today explain [sic] to those people and they now understand that was not the case,” he wrote.
“I hope it teached [sic] some people that they not be so quick to pass judgement and create bad environments to make themselves important, even though I accept that’s part of the game.
“All my career I have done everything to be the best I can be. I always want to win and I find it hard to accept not doing so. Unfortunately it didn’t happen for me at Arsenal and I am sorry about that.
“I came to England in 2013 and I have enjoyed every minute of my time here. I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way to play in this wonderful league that is full of heart and spirit.”
Arsenal could well see further departures before the transfer window closes, too.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has made clear his desire to leave to get regular first-team action elsewhere amid rumours of interest from Everton, while Hector Bellerin has been linked with Barcelona.
Arteta’s side have lost their opening three league games in the new campaign, leaving them bottom of the table heading into the international break.
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