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Marco Silva believes Willian is nearing his best again after injury issues and a near summer move to Saudi Arabia

Chelsea have been warned about the threat of their former winger Willian when they make the short trip to local rivals Fulham on Monday night.

The Brazil international, now 35, is showing glimpses of the form that made him a fan’s favourite in seven years at Stamford Bridge, where he won two Premier League titles and the Europa League.

It is three years since he left for Arsenal and then Corinthians in his native Brazil. He is enjoying another unexpected chapter in the English top flight.

And Fulham manager Marco Silva believes his experienced star is nearing his best again after injury issues and a near summer move to Saudi Arabia.

‘I am finally starting to see the same Willian again in the training sessions,’ Silva said. ‘So sharp, so good with that extra quality he can give us.

Chelsea have been warned about the threat of their former winger Willian (above)

Chelsea have been warned about the threat of their former winger Willian (above)

It is three years since he left for Arsenal and then Corinthians in his native Brazil. He is enjoying another unexpected chapter in the English top flight

It is three years since he left for Arsenal and then Corinthians in his native Brazil. He is enjoying another unexpected chapter in the English top flight

Fulham manager Marco Silva (above) believes his experienced star is nearing his best again after injury issues and a near summer move to Saudi Arabia

Fulham manager Marco Silva (above) believes his experienced star is nearing his best again after injury issues and a near summer move to Saudi Arabia

‘Willian is a top player, he is a class player. He is a player that the way he creates moments for us and the way he can give that extra quality for us is so so important.

‘It is up to me and him as well to keep himself fit, playing with a smile on his face like he is playing right now. This is one of the reasons I started with him last Wednesday.’

Willian has started the season slowly after a disruptive pre-season, playing just over 200 minutes across four games in July. In addition, injury issues and links to a move to Saudi Arabia may have been an unwelcome distraction ahead of a new season..

His performances have improved for Fulham in the last two games against Crystal Palace and Norwich, and his manager is still a huge fan.

Silva added: ‘I played him last Wednesday against Norwich, because I really think he needs more games and needs more time. I know him really well. It was not the best pre-season for him.

‘I know that last season he did not have a pre-season too because he arrived in the last days of August. This pre-season was not a normal one (for him) during the Summer Series, he had some problems in his Achilles and he was not at his best.

‘When we have a player like him with the quality, and when you have him not at 100 per cent, he probably played the first games at 70 or 80 per cent of his best [potential]. It was a tough one against Everton when I took him off at half-time. The problem in the Achilles was there.’

Last season Willian scored five goals and made six assists in 27 league appearances for Fulham as Silva’s side earned a top ten finish.

Last season Willian scored five goals and made six assists in 27 league appearances for Fulham

Last season Willian scored five goals and made six assists in 27 league appearances for Fulham

Without goal scorer Alexander Mitrovic this season, Willian will be relied upon to contribute similar numbers to keep them in the top half of the table.

Silva has no doubts about the winger’s creativity in the final third, and had high praise for his performances off the ball too.

‘Willian is not just a player on the ball for us. The two wingers, Bobby De Cordova-Reid and Willian, against Palace from a tactical point of view they were brilliant.

‘It is a position where I demand really strong performances from our two wingers. It is not an easy position to play under me. To see Willian at his age to do what he did again against Palace, what he did off the ball in that game was brilliant.’

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