Bruce adores Willock
Since signing on loan for Newcastle from Arsenal, Joe Willock has been a revelation for the magpies.
Despite still being used as a substitute for many of his games, Willock has stepped up in big moments for Steve Bruce’s side and scored goals which have had major implications for the club’s survival bid.
Bruce has talked about his delight having the player and also how a conversation will need to be had with Arsenal about him staying next season.
“He doesn’t like being called that (super sub) by the way, and if we can get him for next year, he won’t be a super sub, he’ll be playing!” said Bruce.
Newcastle United’s English midfielder Joe Willock (L) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on April 4, 2021. (Photo by SCOTT HEPPELL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“We are delighted for him. I’m pleased for Joe, he has the football world talking about him.
“That was key for him to show what he’s got. We’d love to keep him if we can.
“That is obviously a conversation we have to have with Arsenal, with respect to them.
“He is 21 and he ticks all the boxes as far as I am concerned.”
However, Arteta may make it difficult for Newcastle to sign Willock saying that it was a difficult decision to let him go.
“It was a difficult decision to let him go because we really like the player,” Mikel Arteta said.
Why Arsenal should sell?
Why then should Arsenal sell a player that is showing great promise on his loan spell? For the record, this isn’t to the detriment of the player, it is how Arsenal must change to become better in the market.
Willock has performed excellently at Newcastle in the short spell that he has been there. However, the England youth international has already played significantly in Arsenal’s senior squad.
The loan has a different feeling to that of a player who is making the final step before becoming a first team regular.
40 Premier League appearances with just the 1 goal tell the story. It is a fair argument that most of these have come from the substitute’s bench, however, his form from the sidelines at Newcastle are what have raised his profile.
It simply hasn’t worked at Arsenal thus far. Furthermore, Willock’s best position is difficult to pinpoint based on his time with his boyhood club.
At Newcastle he has burst into the box playing behind the main striker to find his goals.
For Arsenal, Emile Smith-Rowe has impressed at the number 10 position and the signing of Martin Odegaard in January showed the club’s desire to add further quality.
KOPER, SLOVENIA – MARCH 25: Emile Smith Rowe of England (C) dribbles against Toni Domgjoni of Switzerland (L) during the 2021 UEFA European Under-21 Championship Group D match between England and Switzerland at Stadion Bonifika on March 25, 2021 in Koper, Slovenia. (Photo by Marcio Machado/Getty Images)
Willock will struggle to oust Smith-Rowe and likely whoever the club aim to bring in when the transfer window opens.
The 21-year-old is being touted to have a £20 million price tag thanks to his displays in the northeast.
Arsenal’s history of buying and selling well is patchy and that is being generous.
For the benefit of perspective, since the sale of Robin van Persie in 2012, Willock would become just the 4th player to sell for £20 million-plus after Alex Iwobi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott. (Alexis Sanchez was sold for £20m+ but the figures were cancelled out by the swap deal scenario for Henrikh Mkhitaryan)
January saw players like Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis and Mesut Ozil leave for nothing. Players which have collectively cost the club upwards of £80 million.
LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 15: Per Mertesacker and Fredrik Ljungberg of Arsenal look on as Mesut Ozil kicks his gloves in the air in frustration after he is subbed during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and Manchester City at Emirates Stadium on December 15, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images)
Arsenal need to sell better to invest further. Historically, little-to-no funds have been received from the owners and Arsenal’s transfers have come from the ‘self-sustaining model’ which saw £561 million spent on players between 2015 and 2019.
Should Arsenal keep Willock, the likelihood is that he will not get regular game time, his contract shortens and his value plummets. Selling now represents great business having produced the player through the academy.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 30: Rhian Brewster of Liverpool celebrates a goal during the Carabao Cup Fourth Round match between Liverpool and Arsenal at the Anfield Stadium on October 30, 2019 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Visionhaus)
Liverpool have shown the league that big money can be made from surplus with the sales of Dominic Solanke, Jordan Ibe and Rhian Brewster. Arsenal need to start changing their ways and Willock is a good place to do so.