So then, what about this Newcastle United bid to sign Joe Willock?
Last season ended with Joe Willock completing a sensational sequence.
Scoring in all seven of the final seven Premier League matches of his Newcastle United loan.
In the process breaking Premier League records (the youngest player to score in six consecutive PL matches, then seven) and equalling Newcastle United records (Alan Shearer having also scored in seven consecutive PL games).
For Newcastle United fans and neutrals, a no-brainer that everything possible should be thrown at doing a permanent deal, to keep the midfielder at St James Park, see if he can make it eight (nine, ten…) Premier League scoring games in a row.
In his loan spell, Joe Willock with eight goals in only 980 minutes of football for NUFC, an average of a goal every 122 minutes from midfield, scoring his eight goals from only seventeen shots / chances.
It was a bit of a bizarre ending to the season when it came to the media, repeatedly carrying reports claiming their information was / is that any transfer budget allowed by Mike Ashley was minimal (£10m or less), yet at the same time running stories alongside those, claiming that Newcastle United would / will be making a serious bid (£25m+?) to buy Joe Willock.
Something didn’t add up.
I was asking…if Newcastle United had any real intention of trying to buy Joe Willock, then surely Mike Ashley would have allowed everything to be thrown at trying to do a deal, when the player was still at St James Park. Willock loving his football and even more so his goals, a real feel good time for a 21 year old, something Newcastle had to try and take advantage of.
Why on earth would you not do anything and let him go back off to family and friends in London, let the edge be take on off his NUFC memories, let his family and friends be talking up other possibilities, plus of course other clubs having just as much access now to Joe Willock as Newcastle United.
The media loyal to Mike Ashley dismissing this, saying that waiting was a sensible option and Newcastle United would be going in with full on serious efforts once Joe Willock came back off his holidays.
Well, Monday 5 July 2021 sees the Newcastle United squad return to the training ground to begin pre-season.
The Arsenal squad start pre-season on Wednesday (7 July 2021) before then on Monday (12 July) they head off to Scotland for a pre-season training camp, the same day when Newcastle begin their camp near York.
Maybe Arsenal will drop Joe Willock off on the way to Scotland…
Reality is that there is no bid from Newcastle United to try and buy Joe Willock.
Fair to say it’s likely the player will have been back from his holidays for some time, if indeed he has been anywhere, bearing in mind travel restrictions.
The ‘big’ (only) transfer talk for Newcastle fans has been news of Wolves turning down a £1m bid for a young defender, as well as Steve Bruce wanting Southampton’s unwanted midfielder Mario Lemina, but Mike Ashley refusing to allow any fee to be paid for the £4m rated player – instead trying to force on Southampton one or more of the unwanted NUFC players in a swap arrangement.
Honestly, you have to live in cloud cuckoo land if you think any of this adds up to suddenly a £25m-£30m bid going in from Newcastle for Joe Willock.
As well as Willock’s memories of last season beginning to fade a bit and only remembering the bits he wants to, I think similarly for Mike Ashley and Steve Bruce they will actually start to believe their own spin that went out from the club late last season, via friendly journalists. The suggestion that it was actually Newcastle attacking players returning to fitness that were responsible for the relatively big change in results late in the season.
The reality of course was very different…
The first 22 Premier League matches of the 2020/21 season before Joe Willock first stepped on the pitch for NUFC, had seen six wins, four draws and a massive twelve defeats, only 22 points in 22 games and only 24 goals.
Plus the most recent 13 games (all competitions) before Joe Willock first played had seen only one win, two draws and ten defeats! Only eight goals scored in those thirteen matches.
Before Joe Willock first played, the opening 22 Premier League matches had seen Callum Wilson start 20 of them and he was a sub in another, only unavailable for one of the 22. Joelinton was available for all 22, whist Almiron was available for 20 of the 22 but Steve Bruce had named him on the bench in eight PL games. Alan Saint-Maximin was the one who’d missed the most but even he played in 12 of the first 22 PL games last season.
This myth needs nailed, the really poor form for the first two thirds or so of the season was NOT down to incredibly bad luck with injuries to attacking players. The results had happened despite Wilson, Almiron and Joelinton having been available for nearly every match, even ASM available for a majority of the first 22 PL matches.
The reason Newcastle United picked up better results in the final few months of the season was almost entirely down to the arrival of Joe Willock. Despite been messed about by Steve Bruce and only starting 11 matches, Willock made the difference.
The final 16 Premier League matches saw Joe Willock start 11 and come on as a sub in another three.
In these 16 matches, Newcastle won six, got five draws and five defeats. Not earth shattering but a lot better than we had seen under Steve Bruce up to that point.
To be honest, a lot of the team performances still weren’t great BUT Newcastle at last had another goal threat, as well as Callum Wilson they now had the Arsenal loan player.
In those final 16 PL matches, Joe Willock scored in five of the six wins and two of the five draws, Newcastle picked up only six points in those final 16 games when Willock didn’t score. Indeed, the Burnley game that was the only win where Willock didn’t get on the pitch was a woeful performance, only ASM producing a stunning six or seven minutes after coming on as a sub turned a certain defeat into a surprising but welcome victory.
So what have we to look forward to…?
No effort to try and sign Joe Willock, instead falling back into a routine of filling the midfield with non-goalscorers such as Hayden, Shelvey and Hendrick. Maybe supplemented by a bargain basement buy or free transfer such as Mario Lemina (turns 28 in September and has only scored eight league goals in his entire career!).
The likes of Joe Willock don’t come along very often and this is prime Mike Ashley, instead of grabbing the chance and throwing everything at keeping a player at the club who has impressed so much, it will be a case of throwing the dice yet again and gambling big style.
If Joe Willock isn’t signed and Callum Wilson isn’t regularly available next season, who would have any potential whatsoever to be able to score a decent number of goals?
Less than six weeks to go until the Premier League kicks off, the clock is ticking.
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