Although Willian José is off the beaten track at Real Sociedad, the striker’s versatility and goal-rate could just be what Brazil is looking for
Brazil’s national team has struggled to rely on a top striker over the past few years, never more so than in World Cup 2014. With the emergence of Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino, the situation feels a lot safer now. But one less famous name who is gradually reaching the spotlight is Willian José.
The 26-year old striker has recently revealed his readiness to emulate Diego Costa’s footsteps by representing Spain’s national team, in case Brazil boss Tite does not give him any opportunities to prove himself. The Real Sociedad-man went further by stating that Brazilian coaches select the same players in every single call-up, instead of valuing footballers who are experiencing better form.
Willian José’s reputation in his homeland is not exactly the best, as he was labeled as a massive flop during his time at São Paulo and Santos. Brazilians still struggle to believe that this is the same Willian José that the Spanish press is now praising. However, Carlos Henrique Casemiro is another example of a player who failed to grab attentions in the Brazilian league, but is now working wonders in Spain. Coincidentally, it is Real Madrid Castilla that opened the door of opportunity for both players.
Real Sociedad are seventh in the Spanish league this season and have already booked their qualification from the group stage phases of the Europa League. A lot of that is no doubt, due to their target man up top. As a matter of fact, Willian José has already reached the double figures mark in terms of goals scored this season, and is on a run of 8 goals in his last 10 matches in all competitions.
While José is deadly inside the penalty box, he has more to offer in his game than just goals. In fact, his hold-up play, link-up play, dominance in aerial duels and ability to receive the ball with his back turned to his marker are some of the qualities that make him a versatile central attacker. His ability to take on opponents in one-on-one situations is not exactly Neymar-like, but he did score an impressive solo goal away against Girona, two weeks ago, where his technique was reminiscent of Diego Costa’s.
Brazil’s national team seems to have closed the door for competitors for the number nine role, ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But with Willian José having represented Brazil in the World Cup U20 back in 2011, before he had even gained Spanish citizenship, it is henceforth forbidden by FIFA rules that he represents any other national team than his country of origin. On the other hand, Andreas Pereira who did represent Brazil in the 2015 edition of the tournament, can still represent Belgium because he already had their citizenship at his disposal, during that World Cup.
Whether Willian José was aware over whether he is eligible to represent La Furia Roja or not, one thing is for sure, his statement which came shortly after losing Brazil-born Jorginho to Italy, is a clear indicator that the Seleção is not giving enough chances to the talented players under its disposal. José might well be right, Brazil managers pick the same players every single time.