Jose Mourinho says Tottenham could not compete with Arsenal’s wage offer to Willian in the summer.
The Brazil international moved to the Emirates Stadium on a free transfer after his Chelsea contract expired.
Willian was also linked with Tottenham amid talk of a potential reunion between the winger and Mourinho, who managed him at Stamford Bridge.
However, the Portuguese says Spurs could not afford to match the pay packet Arsenal offered to Willian, who signed a three-year deal at the Emirates.
SPECIAL OFFER Subscribe to FourFourTwo for just £9.99 a quarter
"We don't have money for Willian,” Mourinho said ahead of Sunday’s north London derby. “We cannot pay the wages that he gets at Arsenal so I didn't want to waste our time because we cannot pay these wages.
"He is still dangerous, he is still one of the best players in the Premier League.
“Apart from that, he is a good friend. I have nothing to hide in relation to that. We keep in touch, we keep in contact, we call each other.
“We wish good things to each other. He is my friend and of course he is a very good player.”
Despite Mourinho’s praise, Willian has had an underwhelming start to his Arsenal career.
The former Chelsea man has yet to score in the Premier League for his current employers, while two of his three assists came on the opening day against Fulham.
Willian is not the only Arsenal attacker who has struggled to make an impression this term.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has only scored twice in his 10 top-flight appearances, while Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe have four goals between them.
Mikel Arteta will hope for an improvement in that regard when Arsenal renew hostilities with Tottenham on Sunday.
While you’re here, subscribe to FourFourTwo and save 48% – available until Christmas. It’s the perfect gift idea for anybody who loves football (including yourself)!
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.