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Third Joe Willock option almost totally ignored – Bizarre

2 months ago
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Difficult to believe that Joe Willock has been at Newcastle United only 16 weeks.

A 16 weeks that has seen an incredible finale to his loan spell at St James Park.

The 21 year old such a low key signing on 1 February after scoring only once in 40 Arsenal Premier League appearances, a player desperate for regular football and a kickstart to his career after only two starts for the Gunners in the opening five months of the season.

This has been the Joe Willock timeline of action in just recent days…

Friday 21 May

Mikel Arteta stated on Friday that Joe Willock will be playing for Arsenal in the 2021/22 season.

Sunday 23 May

After already having become the youngest Premier League player to score in six consecutive games, Willock scores against Fulham to now become the youngest ever Premier League player to score in seven consecutive matches. The one class act in a poor match, running from halfway inside his own half to score the goal that effectively won the match.

Monday 24 May

Monday night has seen Joe Willock say ‘Goodbye’ (see below) to Newcastle United fans via his personal social media.

Joe Willock via his personal social media:

“Newcastle United family – Thank you for rocking with me.

“I will never forget the love you have showed me, the team, the fans, the city will always hold a special place in my heart. #UTM (Up The Maggies). Goodbye.”

Tuesday 25 May

Joe Willock nominated for Premier League player of the month and surely the massive favourite to win, having scored in all four May appearances as he concluded his seven goals in seven matches run.

Wednesday 26 May

Ignored by Gareth Southgate despite him naming a massive 33 players for his provisional Euro 2020 squad.

So what now for Joe Willock?

Well, Joe Willock has scored 8 Premier League goals for Newcastle in 11 starts and 3 sub appearances, 3 more Premier League goals than any Arsenal player (Aubameyang and Lacazette both 5) since start of February.

In 14 Premier League games the 21 year old has scored 2 more goals than Joelinton has scored in 69 PL matches. In his last 389 minutes for Newcastle United, has scored more Premier League goals (7) than Joelinton (6) has scored in 4,687 minutes.

In only 980 minutes has scored 8 goals for NUFC at an average of a goal every 122 minutes, directly helping Newcastle United pick up 17 points in the 8 matches he scored in.

A 21 year old English midfielder who can’t stop scoring goals, what’s not to like?

All the media attention has been focused on whether Joe Willock will be playing for Arsenal or Newcastle United next season.

I do agree that despite Arteta talking about Willock being at Arsenal next season, it doesn’t really ring true.

The midfielder doesn’t appear to suit the way Arsenal play under Arteta for starters, plus the Gunners boss is reported to have his own transfer targets already identified AND needs to raise cash to help pay for them.

If only he had a rapidly improving homegrown player who has rapidly increased in value BUT doesn’t fit his team set up and could be sold…

That obviously appearing to tip the scales in Newcastle United’s favour.

However, even if you take the quantum leap of faith that Mike Ashley would suddenly allow Newcastle to properly bid for a permanent signing of Joe Willock, despite all the media previously reporting that there would be a minimal budget allowed by Ashley this summer and almost complete reliance on loans and frees and maybe the odd bargain basement buy…

I think you then have to totally ignore the third Joe Willock option which has been almost totally ignored and is to me, the overwhelmingly most likely thing to happen.

Joe Willock playing for a team that isn’t Arsenal OR Newcastle United in the 2021/22 season.

Arsenal have a player who if Newcastle United had handled things right, would have had a buying clause of around £10m to £15m at the very most in his loan agreement.

Instead they now have an asset where the starting bids must be at least in the £25m to £30m bracket. Also, whilst I do think Joe Willock is a great prospect, Arsenal will wonder whether this is simply a purple patch that can never be repeated, a midfielder who had scored one goal in 40 PL appearances for the Gunners, now scoring eight goals for Newcastle from only seventeen shots – an incredible scoring success of almost 50% with his shooting / heading.

Rightly or wrongly, I think Arsenal will see this as peak time to sell Joe Willock, a list of clubs undoubtedly set to compete for him if allowed.

I think the situation is very similar to where Newcastle ended up with Ayoze Perez.

Perez a £10m to £12m player maybe and with a half decent scoring rate averaging seven Premier League goals a season BUT who Rafa Benitez turned into a £30m asset, when Perez scored nine goals in February – May 2019. The former Tenerife player making it 12 goals for the season and more than doubling his value in the final few months of that 2018/19 season, with Leicester prepared to pay the release clause of £30m.

The Joe Willock goalscoring transformation has been even more dramatic and if you look at potential contenders for his signature, it is worth looking at how the Premier League table looks at the end of the 2020/21 season:

I could potentially see Leicester, West Ham, Leeds, Everton, Aston Villa and Wolves, as clubs that could all be trying to buy Joe Willock this summer.

If so, do you honestly think the midfielder would pick Newcastle United over all (any???) of these clubs?

Obviously once upon a time I would have almost taken it for granted that any player would choose Newcastle over that lot. However, so long as Mike Ashley remains, I take nothing for granted. Indeed, competing for any player these days is a big ask under Ashley.

Callum Wilson chose Newcastle over Villa a year ago but they had just survived on the final day of the 2019/20 season and with Wilson’s age and dream of maybe sneaking into England’s Euro 2020 squad, NUFC just made the cut.

I have no doubt that Joe Willock is sincere when he says he has loved his time at Newcastle and would potentially consider a permanent move to Tyneside BUT reality is, that choice wouldn’t be Ashley’s NUFC ahead of the opposition.

He will look this summer at who will be willing to pay the money (to both him and Arsenal), then which clubs have most ambition.

Leicester are FA Cup winners, fifth place twice in a row, can offer Europa League football and another crack at the top four next season.

West Ham can also offer Europa League football and will undoubtedly be having a real go at trying to establish themselves as a top six club after this season’s breakthrough, plus of course Joe Willock would be able to stay living in London.

Leeds, Everton and Villa all finishing 10+ points ahead of Newcastle and will all be looking to show ambition this summer.

Wolves will be backing their new manager and though below Newcastle on goal difference this time, finished seventh twice in a row previously and are a club ambitious for more.

If Joe Willock was a Geordie then you could maybe hope that would be a game changer but back in the day it didn’t stop the likes of Gazza and Beardley being forced to leave an unambitious Newcastle United.

Under Mike Ashley this club is going nowhere and not for one moment do I even think he will allow a proper bid to be made for Joe Willock, although the media close to him will happily claim the club did their best etc etc.

It is deja vu, like last summer everything depends on a takeover happening. Even then, how realistic is it that anything could happen in time to help this transfer window.

Last week we heard how Mike Ashley’s personal fortune had increased by £769m to almost £3billion in the last 12 months.

For once, investing some of his own riches in his own business (football club) in an ambitious way, is surely the right way for even him to see he has to go.

Failing to even try and buy Joe Willock would surely be a total joke. Instead, Mike Ashley needs Newcastle to try and buy Joe Willock AND other quality players this summer, they would be massive assets to the club and give NUFC a chance of success as well as the club growing in value. Plus I’m sure the Saudis would agree to compensate Ashley for the extra expenditure if they did get the go ahead on the takeover.

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