Willian is a footballer. He plays football at a high-enough level to do it as a job. However, to call him Chelsea’s MVP for the season is about as wide of the mark as a 40-yard shot from a Sunday League centre-back.
In an Eden Hazard-less era, Chelsea have been on the lookout for a new talisman this season, and Willian threw his hat into the ring for that role when he took the Belgian’s old number ten shirt. He wanted that responsibility.
Sky Sports have named Willian as Chelsea’s MVP for this season. Ah.
Let’s start by clarifying that Willian is not a bad footballer. Just because he doesn’t deserve Chelsea’s MVP award doesn’t mean he’s instantly awful, stealing a living or anything like that. There are plenty of footballers who are considerably worse than Willian.
Sky note that Willian’s five assists and 51 chances created are team-highs, and that’s fair enough. Credit to him for getting to the top of those charts.
However, as a winger who is tasked with shouldering the weight of the team, would you say that those numbers are good enough? A sign of a job well done?
The thing about an MVP is it is someone who is supposed to make the team considerably better by doing their job at an incredibly high level on a consistent basis, regardless of what the stat sheet says.
Has that been Willian? Apart from the odd moment of magic, you’d have to say no.
Willian’s job is to create goals and he hasn’t really done that. In fact, more often than not, he has frustrated fans with his decision-making and left them wishing that someone else was in his shoes. How can you call that MVP behaviour?
Riyad Mahrez has ten assists. Adama Traoré has seven. Even Nicolas Pépé, who we can all agree has had a difficult debut season with Arsenal, has created six goals. Willian’s five assists are not enough.
At Chelsea, there’s only one man who deserved the honour of being named the MVP, and that’s Mateo Kovačić.
At the base of the Blues’ midfield, Kovačić has been utterly superb all season. The Croatian has ran the show for Frank Lampard’s side, keeping things ticking and driving Chelsea forward with terrifying ease.
With a pass completion rate of close to 90%, Kovačić has been as reliable as they come, but his control and dribbling have set him apart from the rest. Trying to get the ball off him has proven to be impossible.
Plus, if you’re looking for assists, Kovačić has managed three, even though it’s not really his job to do that.
Without his creativity and drive in midfield, Chelsea would have been far weaker. He has been so valuable to the Blues. If only they made some form of prize to reward someone for being a team’s most valuable player.
Fans haven’t been left wanting more from Kovačić. He has even exceeded expectations by adding some form of end product to his game. You can’t say that about Willian, and that’s why he can’t be viewed as the MVP.