After the completion of three signings, it is now time for Arsenal to balance the books by making some player sales. Player departures have begun with Joe Willock being the first player to go through the exit gates, the midfielder has joined Newcastle United for an undisclosed fee.
In the 2019-20 Premier League season, Willock featured in just 6 games under Mikel Arteta. However, he played in 5 Europa League group games, registering 3 goals and 3 assists. Due to lack of game time, the 21-year-old midfielder decided to move to Newcastle, where he spent the second half of the 20-21 season on loan.
Willock scored in his very first match for the Magpies, opening the scoring and helped the club beat Southampton 3-2. He then went on to score 7 more times for Steve Bruce’s side, scoring in seven consecutive games. These goals include the deciders against Tottenham and Liverpool, and a goal against Manchester City, a thriller which ended 4-3 in favour of the eventual champions. His contributions helped the Tyneside club finish twelfth on the Premier League table, keeping them away from the relegation zone.
Willock was considered as one of the brightest academy prospects, but it was evident that Arteta didn’t have the midfielder in his rebuilding plans, and the club conveyed the same to him. This prompted him to make a permanent switch to St. James’ Park this season. Question is whether this will potentially come back to bite them and produce a repeat of what happened last summer with Emi Martinez.
Earlier, it was reported that Arsenal suggested Newcastle a loan deal for the player with an option to buy. However, the Tyneside club believed a permanent deal this summer is more beneficial for them. They feel that their two loan slots could be filled up with other signings in different positions.
Reports suggested that Newcastle United offered the Gunners £25m including add-ons for the permanent transfer of Joe Willock. This expenditure on the young midfielder is very important for the Magpies and is higher than their expected summer budget of £20m. This shows how deeply they valued the 21 year old Arsenal youth product who had been with the club since the age of 5.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce wanted to have the player back this season, having been hugely impressed with Willock’s performances last season. He feels Willock will be a long-term signing for the club, making the player his summer transfer priority. When asked about Willock joining on a permanent deal, the boss said:
“I’m absolutely delighted to secure our number one target.”
“We have had to be patient and persistent, but it has been worth the wait to bring Joe back.”
“Joe is a wonderful young player with all the attributes you want in a midfielder, and he certainly proved that during his time with us last season.”
Clearly Steve Bruce knew what he was getting which is why he and Newcastle seemed absolutely hell bent on securing the young Arsenal midfielder. From making statements to the press every alternate day to putting his money where his mouth is by upping their previous offer of £15m to £25m including add ons, Newcastle did everything they could to secure their man which goes to show how deeply they valued him.
Same can’t be said from Arsenal’s POV who seem to have lost another player in the squad who actually valued what the club stood for. Willock was a prodigious young midfielder who was deeply valued and appreciated by the technical staff in the youth setup, an Arsenal through and through who will most likely become an instrumental player for club and country. Too bad it won’t be in Arsenal colours.
Arsenal plan to sign a goalkeeper and an attacking midfielder this summer. Having already spent around £75m on three signings, the club need to raise funds if they do wish to add to their squad. Joe Willock’s transfer brings in handy cash for the board to sign either Maddison or any other midfielder so lets hope the pros eventually outweigh the cons of this move.
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