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Willian thanks Chelsea fans as Arsenal finalise contract terms

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Willian has completed his move to Arsenal

Willian has completed his move to Arsenal

PA

Willian has completed his move to Arsenal

Willian has confirmed his departure from Chelsea ahead of his expected move to London rivals Arsenal.

The Brazilian leaves Stamford Bridge after his contract expired following seven years at the club, despite head coach Frank Lampard's attempts to tie him down to a new deal.

Arsenal were last night finalising details with Willian, who turned 32 yesterday, expected to sign a three-year deal with the option of a further 12 months.

In an open letter to Chelsea supporters, Willian acknowledged the criticism he had received at the club at various stages, but said he had enjoyed a "wonderful" time at Stamford Bridge.

"In August 2013, when I received the offer from Chelsea, I was convinced that this was where I had to play," Willian wrote.

"Today I am certain that it was the best of decisions. There were so many happy times, some sad, there were trophies and it was always very intense.

"I am really grateful to the Chelsea fans for the affectionate way they welcomed me at Stamford Bridge and their support throughout my time at the club.

"There was also criticism, which is normal. What is important though is that both the affection and criticism drove me to always give my all in every training session, every game, to be constantly improving until my very last minute in a Chelsea shirt."

Willian's salary offer from Arsenal is expected to be lower than the one from Chelsea, although it will include various bonuses.

A key factor in his departure has been Chelsea offering him only a two-year deal as opposed to the three he wanted.

His expected arrival at Arsenal has already generated controversy, as last week the club announced that 55 members of staff would be made redundant due to financial issues.

© Daily Telegraph, London

Telegraph.co.uk