When Joe Willock left Arsenal for Newcastle United on-loan on deadline day in the January transfer window, many supporters were eager to see the Hale End academy player develop his game in the Premier League with a club where his qualities will be greatly appreciated.
And nearly three months since his move up north, and Willock has been nothing but a success for Steve Bruce’s side, with the 21-year-old midfielder scoring three goals for the Toon, his latest being a late winner against high-flying West Ham to put Newcastle nine points clear of the relegation zone.
The Magpies fortunes have overturned immensely since the signing of Willock, who has established himself as a key player in the run-in for Bruce’s squad, and the Newcastle manager admitted to The Chronicle Live following the 3-2 win over West Ham that he would be keen to sign the Arsenal man permanently in the summer transfer window.
Indeed, Willock’s future at Arsenal is still unclear. The midfielder has been a firm fan favourite ever since he broke into the first-team at the start of last season under Unai Emery, with his performances in the UEFA Europa League, in particular, showcasing his talents well as a midfielder whose attacking intent is fantastic with his late runs into the penalty box and special awareness.
The Hale End graduate would expect to be back amongst the Arsenal first-team next season given his performances for the Toon, yet situations like this are never as simple as black or white. Mikel Arteta will have to decide what to do with Willock in the summer, and there are multiple options the Spaniard has to choose from.
With Fabrizio Romano recently reporting that Arsenal want to sign Martin Odegaard in the summer, there is a possibility that Arteta and his backroom team decide to offload Willock given how much his stock has raised since joining Newcastle on loan, a similar situation the club found themselves last year with Emiliano Martinez, a player impressed so much in the absence of Bernd Leno that the club sold their number two keeper for an impressive fee of £17m according to BBC Sport.
Yet there could be an even higher chance that Willock remains with the club next season. With Dani Ceballos’ future uncertain and Odegaard not guaranteed to stay beyond this campaign, Arsenal could shoot themselves in the foot if they were to sell a player who is not only young and has potential but who can also thrive in the number 8 and 10 positions.
Arsenal will no doubt have a busy summer in store for them this year, and Willock’s situation will likely need to be resolved soon in fear of upsetting the player or potentially missing out on much-needed funds the club require this window.