Steve Bruce has revealed his desire to sign Arsenal loanee Joe Willock permanently in the summer, as the 21 year-old continues to impress during his loan spell in the North East.
The Newcastle boss is hopeful a deal can be struck with the Gunners in the coming months, but is unsure if the Magpies could afford the reported £20 million transfer fee.
Speaking after Newcastle’s 3-2 victory over West Ham on Saturday, Bruce said: “We’d love to keep him here. He is the type of player you want to build your club around. Whether that is possible I am not so sure. He is only 21 and a hell of a player and a great lad.”
Willock has been a big hit on Tyneside to date, bringing box to box energy to Newcastle’s midfield and bagging three crucial goals; including a late equaliser against Tottenham and a late winner against West Ham United. The young midfielder has played 9 Premier League games for Bruce’s side, completing 90 mins on 5 occasions.
Willock joined Newcastle on loan on deadline day of the January window, in search of regular first team football. The 21 year-old had only managed 17 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions during the first half of the season, largely featuring in the Europa League or domestic cup competitions. Willock is another Hale End graduate, having featured at every age group in the academy; he has made 77 first team appearances since his senior debut in the League Cup in September 2017.
Speaking on Joe’s move back in February, Edu and Arteta reiterated that the loan deal was for developmental purposes only, and they would be welcoming Willock back to North London for pre-season training. However, given the financial difficulties currently facing the club and the possibility of missing out on European qualification, will senior Arsenal figures see Joe Willock as a way to make quick and easy cash?
As mentioned, a permanent deal for Joe Willock would cost Newcastle somewhere in the region of £20 million. This money could prove invaluable in bringing in Martin Ødegaard on a permanent basis, or securing the services of a new right back.
However, Arsenal have suffered in the past after letting young players go prematurely; Serge Gnabry for example. And with countless other players facing a summer transfer; Héctor Bellerín, Alexandre Lacazette and Lucas Torreira to name just a few; Arsenal may not need to sell Willock to raise the required cash.
Whatever the summer holds for Joe Willock, his current performances on Tyneside is good news for the Gunners. If part of Arteta’s future plans, Willock’s spell at Newcastle will only develop the young midfielder, allowing him to hone his skills by playing regular football. If not, the 21 year-old’s strong showing will only increase his market value ahead of a potential summer move.