Corinthians’ history can very well be divided into one before and after the sale of Willian to Shakhtar Donetsk (UCR) in August 2007. It’s not the player’s fault at all, but the club has changed so much in the 14 years since so that seems to be another institution.
It was on a cold Friday night, in the winter of 2007, that it was decided at a meeting at Parque São Jorge that Corinthians would sell Willian for US$19 million. The club was experiencing two boils: one on the field, where it would end up relegated to Serie B months later; another outside of it, in which President Alberto Dualib was out and running the risk of impeachment. All this before the Andrés Sanchez era, Ronaldo Fenômeno, Tite, the unprecedented Copa Libertadores title, Neo Química Arena, CT and all the memories of younger fans. Almost everything at the club has changed.
Starting with the presidency. Ten days before Willian’s sale, that August 2007, Alberto Dualib had been sidelined for 60 days amid a police investigation. The acting president was Clodomil Orsi. Dualib eventually resigned, and it was only in October that the name of Andrés Sanchez would become truly known among fans, in his election for the first term.
In short, Corinthians had only one president in the 14 years prior to the sale of Willian to Shakhtar: Alberto Dualib, who had taken over in 1993 and had served four terms. In the 14 years since then, there have been four presidents, and of another political group: Andrés Sanchez, Roberto de Andrade, Mário Gobbi Filho and now Duilio Monteiro Alves, all in some way supported by Andrés.
Structurally, William’s own trajectory at Corinthians highlights the changes. In the days of the base categories, the midfielder used to train in the terrain that today houses the Neo Química Arena. Afterwards, he trained at Parque São Jorge, when he rose to the professional level, because the CT Dr. Joaquim Grava was only inaugurated in 2010.
The biggest differences, however, may have been on the field. Almost 25% of the most important titles in Corinthians history have been won from 2007 until now (precisely 13 of these 54 cups). From Ronaldo to Paolo Guerrero, Cassio’s nearly 500 games, three Brazilian titles? All this happened from 2007 until now.
What hasn’t changed so much is the debt squeeze. A statement from the end of 2007 calculated Corinthians’ debt at around R$95.7 million—adjusted for inflation, this figure today would be R$286 million. However, the real debt doubled in the last term of Andrés Sanchez and today it is over R$ 1 billion, counting Arena.
On the field, Willian is on the shelf of the best reinforcements in Brazilian football in 2021 and, if he plays all he knows alongside Renato Augusto, Giuliano and Roger Guedes, he has everything to put Corinthians back in the dispute for titles.