Willian says ‘time has now come’ to leave Chelsea

Chelsea's Willian is chased by Liverpool's Andrew Robertson during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Chelsea. (Laurence Griffiths, Pool via AP)

LONDON — Brazil forward Willian used his 32nd birthday to announce that the “time has now come” to leave Chelsea.

Willian is out of contract following a seven-year stay at Stamford Bridge amid repeated media reports of a free transfer switch to London rivals Arsenal.

“The time has now come to move on. I am certainly going to miss my team-mates,” he wrote in an open letter to Chelsea fans published Sunday on Twitter.

Willian won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, a League Cup and the Europa League with Chelsea and said he would depart with his “head held high”.

He later added: “Thanks for everything @chelseafc and Chelsea fans!!!”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.