Willian is set to move from Shakhtar Donetsk to Anzhi Makhachkala in the most expensive move of the European January transfer window.
While loan moves were the order of the day, with the likes of West Ham’s Alou Diarra, Paris Saint-Germain’s Mohamed Sissoko and Porto’s Rolando all earning temporary deals elsewhere, Willian’s reportedly 30-million-pound switch was the talk of transfer deadline day.
The 24-year-old Brazilian attacking midfielder, who was linked with a move to Chelsea before this season, is expected to swap Ukraine for Russia with Anzhi expected to add Willian to their squad under head coach Guus Hiddink.
Anzhi have reportedly met Shakhtar’s asking price of 30 million pounds for Willian, who will join the likes of Samuel Eto’o, Lassana Diarra and compatriots Ewerton, Jucilei and Joao Carlos at the Dagestan-based club.
Shakhtar head coach Mircea Lucescu was clearly disappointed when he confirmed the clubs had agreed a fee for Willian but claimed he could not have done more to convince the Brazilian playmaker to stay in Donetsk.
“There is a club willing to pay the release clause in his contract and Willian agreed to move. There is nothing I can do,” Lucescu said.
“To tell you frankly, I tried to convince him to stay because I think his decision is hasty and not thought out well enough. He is like a son to me.
“He came to Shakhtar almost as a child and leaves us as a 24-year-old man. I told him he would have achieved more with us when we said goodbye.
“Why did he not listen to me? I guess he was under huge pressure from his agent and his relatives that wanted to get everything at once.”
Diarra, who claimed earlier this month he had been ignored at West Ham, completed a loan move to Ligue 1 club Rennes as the French outfit looked to cover for Yann M’Vila’s transfer to Rubin Kazan.
Sissoko has moved on loan to Fiorentina with the Italian club retaining the option to buy at the end of the season, while Portuguese defender Rolando has also moved to Serie A, having joined Napoli on loan until the end of the season.
Liverpool have released 33-year-old Brazilian goalkeeper Doni, who will return to his homeland and join Botafogo on a free transfer.
In other English Premier League news, Norwich have signed Argentine striker Luciano Becchio from Leeds United with Steve Morison heading the other way in a swap deal, while Fulham have brought in Bulgarian defender Stanislav Manolev on loan from PSV Eindhoven and Stoke have bought American winger Brek Shea for 2.5 million pounds from FC Dallas.
Swiss full-back Reto Ziegler has joined Turkish club Fenerbahce on a six-month loan from Juventus, while French forward Emmanuel Riviere has left Ligue 1′s Toulouse for Ligue 2 high-flyers Monaco on a four-and-a-half year deal.