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Joe Willock asking price made public – Arteta admits lack of fitness wasn’t why he was left out today

1 month ago
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Joe Willock was once again making headlines on Sunday.

Arsenal naming a squad to play Tottenham in their final pre-season friendly that didn’t include the midfielder.

Mikel Arteta saying before kick-off that he would explain the absence of Joe Willock and also Rob Holding after the match.

Newcastle United fans of course, automatically wondering / speculating if Joe Willock had been left out to ensure no injury was picked up due to an impending transfer happening.

After losing 1-0 to Tottenham, we got those Mikel Arteta ‘explanations’, as reported by the official Arsenal site:

‘On Joe Willock and Rob Holding not being in the squad…’

“Two different reasons.

“With Rob, he was not available, he wasn’t fit enough to play today.

“With Joe, we will explain the reasons when we can.”

‘On whether it means Joe is leaving the club…’

“It’s all I can say now, when I can say more I will let you know.”

This is exactly what Newcastle United fans didn’t want, instead of some clarity, just yet more smoke and mirrors that gives far more additional questions than answers.

However…we can take some ‘facts’ from Arteta’s cloak and dagger update.

Rob Holding was left out today because he wasn’t fit enough to play.

Joe Willock WAS NOT left out today because he wasn’t fit enough to play, which I’m assuming also means he wasn’t injured or ill.

So…if the 21 year old wasn’t left out due to injury / illness, the logical conclusion for most people would be that there is a chance of Willock moving in the near future.

What I would also say, is that if it was only a straight loan deal set to happen, I don’t think that would be enough for Arsenal to take Joe Willock out of the firing line. The big reason clubs don’t play soon to be moving players, is so they don’t risk missing out on significant transfer fee cash if said player then got injured and the deal called off.

Meanwhile, the Chronicle have given an update on Sunday afternoon and they say their information is that Arsenal have set a minimum valuation of £25m if anybody wants to bid for Joe Willock.

Just to then add yet another layer of smoke and mirrors to the Joe Willock / transfer window debate, on Friday, Steve Bruce gave this update…

Steve Bruce talking to Sky Sports – 6 August 2021:

“I am very quietly confident that we will bring in a couple of players before the window closes.

“That is for sure.

“What I did say to the supporters, to tell them, look, from the offset…

“We are in a market where we are looking for players with very little transfer fee, or obviously the loan market.

“Which we have done well, in the past.

“So, that’s what we are looking at.”

If you take Steve Bruce’s words at face value and believe he is telling the truth, they don’t in any way suggest the Mike Ashley ‘plan’ includes Newcastle United paying £25m+ for Joe Willock this summer. Indeed, they are saying the very opposite, that there is absolutely no way Newcastle are set to pay their second highest transfer fee in the 14+ years Mike Ashley has owned the club.

What constantly gets ignored by the media in this never ending coverage of the Joe Willock situation, is the potential of another club, not Newcastle United, coming in and buying the midfielder.

Instead, the media repeatedly make it all about only three or four options:

Joe Willock stays at Arsenal.

Newcastle buy Joe Willock.

Newcastle have another simple straightforward loan agreement to temporarily sign the player.

Newcastle have a loan deal which also includes a fixed arrangement to buy Joe Willock at the end of it.

Arsenal are spending major money this summer, around £75m already committed and reportedly a lot more incoming action to follow in the remaining 23 days of the transfer window.

They are keen to offset a major part of their summer spending by selling players they aren’t desperate to keep and so the major question is, why would Arsenal agree any kind of loan deal with Newcastle for Joe Willock when instead plenty of other (more ambitious than Newcastle) clubs would be more than happy to pay the asking price for the goalscoring midfielder?

If you believe that there are no other clubs willing to pay the money for Joe Willock and that Newcastle United have a completely free run at it, then you have to be naive in the extreme.

If Newcastle United do indeed sign Joe Willock then all well and good but until that happens, this definitely has the feeling for many people of NUFC fans simply getting played again by Mike Ashley and his minions, deflecting from the fact that not a single signing has been made in these opening 61 days of the transfer window.

Plus, even if Joe Willock does return to Tyneside, in actual fact Newcastle will still be weaker than they were as last season came to an end, as Andy Carroll and others have been released, with no replacements brought in.

As for Arsenal fans watching on, they have now seen their team lose to Hibernian, Chelsea and Tottenham in pre-season, plus a draw with Rangers.

Difficult to please at the best of times, just because their club have spent £75m already and are set to commit a lot more, won’t prevent many of them wondering if a u-turn is potentially needed, to give Joe Willock the chance to prove himself at The Emirates.

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