Willian was the biggest sale in the history of Corinthians for years, emerged as an ace project and established himself as a national team player. Something that the 41 games and two goals that appear in the record of his stay at the professional, between 2005 and 2007, are far from transmitting, especially for those who did not follow the young man with the Alvinegra shirt.
First, it must be recognized that Willian’s real trajectory begins on November 1, 2006, when he was taken by Émerson Leão to a game against Fortaleza, in Ceará. Shortly after, that same month, he became a starter and has already closed the year as one of the team’s main options.
As he was transferred to the U-20 selection in the dispute of the South American of the category, he needed to regain his space when he returned, in February 2007, but already mature enough to be the best player on the team. There begins the Willian impact that only those who have seen, remember or researched can scale.
In addition to the goals, the assists
Two goals in 41 games make for a bad impression for someone who was so celebrated, but a closer look gives a better dimension of Willian’s talent. Starting with direct participations in goal as well as swinging the ball in the net, such as the number of assists.
Even playing only 33 games, the guard gave nine passes to goals from teammates in 2007. In other words, added to the two goals are 11 direct participations in 33 games, reaching an average of 0.33 per game. He was the club’s leader in this regard that season – and would be in another seven this century.
praise from rivals
Willian even enchanted opponents during his time at Corinthians, especially in the first half of 2007. Coach Muricy Ramalho, then at São Paulo, made a point of congratulating him in the 1-1 draw between the teams, at Morumbi, placing him as great player for the future of the country after the duel.
Edmundo, the idol of Palmeiras, in an interview given to TV Gazeta’s Mesa Redonda program, stated that “this boy from Corinthians, Willian, plays a lot of ball”. Antonio Carlos and Zé Roberto, then at Santos, also valued the young man’s ability and personality on the field.
Outstanding game in the village
Willian became a reference after a derby against Santos, by the 2007 Paulista. A defeat that eliminated Corinthians from the chances of advancing to the next stage, but a formidable performance.
With dribbles and duels won hand in hand, at a time when the statistical sites did not register, he had direct participation in Adailton’s own goal and yellowed no less than five opponents. Paulo César Carpegiani, a coach who arrived soon after, knew there that he would be an essential part of the scheme.
With Willian, a good team
Willian transformed the Corinthians team, relegated from the 2007 Brazilian Nationals, into a team that struggled to go to Libertadores da América. In the 15 games he played in that edition, he saw the team add six wins, six draws and only three defeats, with 53.3% of the points, which would give something between 60 and 61 points in the table at the end of the tournament – same score from Fluminense, third place.
The problem was that, in the middle of a good run, he had to be given over to the U-20 World Cup, losing four duels and coming back injured. Even with pain in his ankle, he led a draw against future champion São Paulo and unlikely victories against Botafogo, leader at the time, and Grêmio, vice-champion of the Libertadores.
The highlight was such that it caught the attention of the emerging Shakhtar Donetsk, who was willing to invest around 19 million dollars in its acquisition. An exit that saved Corinthians financially, paying off debts like the one for center forward Nilmar, but that ended with the quality of the team.
The Corinthians had in the other 23 games of the competition without the star four wins, eight draws and 11 defeats, a performance of less than 30%, which ended up resulting in relegation.
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