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Leaked Joe Willock in talks with Newcastle then season tickets go on sale – Coincidence?

6 months ago

On Tuesday night (13 July 2021), a newspaper exclusive stated that Newcastle United were in talks to sign Joe Willock, that indeed talks had been going on for some time with a second loan deal, for a year this time, likely to happen.

This exclusive from The Times was quickly copied and pasted by the rest of the media, so by Wednesday (14 July 2021) Newcastle fans were getting told by pretty much all of the other journalists that the goalscoring midfielder was on his way back to St James Park.

At 10am on Thursday (15 July 2021) morning, Mike Ashley put 2021/22 Newcastle United season tickets on sale.

A bit of a coincidence, I’m sure you will agree.

I’m no conspiracy theorist but I have to say the timing is all a bit convenient.

I am not doubting that The Times story came from decent sources, in fact on this occasion I would believe definitely so. Those sources almost certainly being Mike Ashley’s people, whether directly or indirectly.

If a journalist is told something that is from a recognised / believable source, then it ticks all the boxes, an easy story that is already written for them. Obviously, it doesn’t automatically mean that the information is 100% going to prove to be accurate, the journalist simply has to be sure he is getting the info from what appears to be a credible source who could have the inside track on a story.

Which brings us back to Joe Willock.

We have gone from Steve Bruce towards the end of last season claiming Newcastle United would move heaven on earth to try and get Joe Willock back to St James Park, to then complete silence for almost a couple of months.

Then on day 35 of the summer transfer window we get this Times exclusive reporting ongoing talks with Joe Willock.

The story definitely appearing to suggest that these talks had been going on for some time, before finally going public just before the NUFC season tickets went on sale…

You might think that this all sounds a bit lame, pathetic and unlikely to change many (any) fans’ minds on whether to renew or get a season ticket…BUT it hasn’t stopped Ashley and his people in the past. The media / PR strategy under Ashley’s main man Keith Bishop often laughable.

I think the biggest problem for me is that the story just doesn’t really add up, the logic not working whatsoever for myself.

You had a 21 year old midfielder who’d played 40 times for Arsenal in the Premier League, mostly as a sub, scoring one goal. Loaned out to Newcastle United in January 2021 and probably valued at somewhere between £10m and £15m.

Only 980 minutes of Newcastle United Premier League action later, the 21 year old midfielder has scored another eight Premier League goals from only seventeen chances, including scoring in all of his final seven NUFC loan appearances.

A young 21 year old English goalscoring midfielder who can’t now stop scoring goals, what price now?

The idea that Arsenal will be happy to loan Joe Willock out once again, I just don’t see any logic as to how this works for Arsenal?

It appears very straightforward, either Arsenal cash in now on the midfielder’s seriously increased goal-fuelled value and sell to another Premier League club, or they keep him and see if he can keep scoring goals but now back in an Arsenal shirt.

Joe Willock has two years left on his Arsenal contract and loaning him out for the 2021/22 season makes zero sense. If the goal rush at the end of last season did prove never to be repeated and Willock back to being a non/low scoring midfielder, then the Gunners by the end of the 2021/22 season would have a player with just one year left on his contract who is worth £10m at the very most.

As things stand, I reckon Arsenal could easily get £25m for Joe Willock in this current transfer window if willing to sell. Plenty clubs prepared to gamble on those NUFC goals being a clear sign of a player now finding his feet and how best to use him. Once again, a goalscoring young English midfielder is priceless.

If did decide to sell, Arsenal could also protect themselves against Joe Willock becoming a Premier League goal machine, by inserting a big sell-on clause in any contract. So if he goes to Leeds, Villa, Wolves, West Ham or whoever for £25m and keeps scoring for fun, the Gunners will get another big chunk of cash if later Willock goes somewhere else for £50m, £60m or whatever.

I see reports suggesting a valuation of £15m or £17m for Joe Willock and I don’t know how anybody can believe that. Bang average midfielders who score very few goals are regularly signed by Premier League clubs, Willock’s goal potential means absolutely no chance he would be sold for less than £20m+ this summer.

If you look at the top goalscorers last season in the Premier League, apart from strikers the only two who scored more than 11 PL goals were penalty king Fernandes (18) and playing for champions Man City and fed chance after chance, Gundogan (13).

If he’d had a full season at Newcastle United, despite Steve Bruce’s negative set-up, I think fair to say that Joe Willock would have managed at least four more goals to beat the other midfielders, whilst every chance of another half dozen to then leave penalty rich Fernandes as the only PL midfielder to score more than Joe Willock.

I’m sorry, I just can’t see Newcastle United signing Joe Willock this summer unless Mike Ashley was prepared to compete with other clubs and pay the asking price. That is of course only if Willock could be persuaded that NUFC are ambitious and willing to try and compete.

Even if for some mad reason Arsenal were prepared to loan out Joe Willock once again, I’m not even convinced Mike Ashley would be willing to pay the loan fee. Earlier this year, there was probably little or no loan fee payable by Newcastle to get Joe Willock for the run-in, whereas I think a loan for the entire 2021/22 season would entail a loan fee of around £3m or £4m payable to Arsenal, plus of course meeting the player’s wage demands.

I think Newcastle fans need to live in the real world, if any of you honestly think Joe Willock would currently be worth less than £20m, what would you rate the current NUFC midfielders at? A lot of fans go overboard on Isaac Hayden but I just don’t see it, he is simply one of many central midfielders who doesn’t score or create goals, of which Newcastle have many (Shelvey, Sean Longstaff, Hendrick), along with a lot of others at rival Premier League clubs.

Some people would happily believe Joe Willock is valued at less than £20m and yet think daft figures such as £50m / £60m are serious for Allan Saint-Maximin, only six goals in two Premier League seasons. Yes I love ASM as well but his end product is still not great overall and why would anybody rate him three times more valuable than the goals and potential Willock showed late last season?

A properly run club of course would have been straight onto both Joe Willock and Arsenal as the goals flowed in April and May, making a serious offer to buy the loan midfielder and got the job done before rival clubs got their chance.


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