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Only thing to be sorted was supposed to be the transfer fee…Joe Willock deal stalling

1 month ago
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On Sunday (8 August) it was announced that Steve Bruce had finally got his man, Arsenal and Newcastle United agreeing a transfer fee in the region of £22m agreed initial fee, plus around £3m in future add-ons.

The ‘only’ things now needed were for Newcastle United to agree personal terms with Joe Willock and then after a medical, the signing could be announced, NUFC’s first of this transfer window (only 19 days now until it closes).

We are now four days on and in this time Norwich, Southampton, Watford, Aston Villa, Brighton and Brentford have all signed players, whilst the best player in the world (of all time) has completed his ‘simple’ deal with PSG.

However, no news on Joe Willock, well no positive news and indeed confusion raging as Newcastle United fans ask why is this stalling, when throughout the summer we were constantly told (see below) that all that was holding up a move, was Arsenal deciding whether or not to let the midfielder move on.

Yesterday, Sky Sports addressed the situation.

Keith Downie covers Newcastle United for Sky Sports and this is what he said via Twitter – Wednesday 11 August 2021:

“Understand the lack of ‘progression’ in Joe Willock to Newcastle is due to a distance between both parties on personal terms.

“There’s no problem between the clubs, Arsenal and Newcastle, who have agreed a fee for the player, rising to £25m.

“But personal terms still not agreed.”

Keith Downie later yesterday (Wednesday 11 August 2021) then adding via Twitter about the Joe Willock situation:

“Would appear many people on here assuming the Newcastle United wage offer is low.

“That isn’t the case.”

Nobody will be surprised to see Sky Sports having Mike Ashley’s back yet again, the clear inference that the blame for no completed deal so far is from the player’s side.

However, surely there is no right or wrong in personal terms when it comes to wages, neither is there a ‘low’ or ‘high’, that is all just subjective and indeed how any why should Sky Sports know what is happening in supposedly private wage negotiations between Joe Willock and Newcastle United? If Keith Downie has indeed been told by somebody who he’d believe would have inside information, it isn’t difficult to work out exactly which side would be wanting to put out this message of a players supposedly been the one who is acting in an unreasonable greedy manner…we have seen it all too often during Mike Ashley’s (far too long) 14+ years and counting.

Joe Willock isn’t in the ‘wrong’ if asking for whatever level of wages, it is simply a case of whether a player and football club can reach agreement at whatever amount. It is purely between the two parties if they don’t agree on a value they can sign off on.

However, it is all a bit of red herring anyway, for anybody to accept at this point that it is ok for Newcastle United to be blaming wage demands as a valid reason for suddenly being unable to get a Joe Willock deal over the line.

Just look at these comments over the last three months from the Newcastle United Head Coach about potentially signing Joe Willock on a permanent deal:

Steve Bruce – 11 May 2021:

“All of us would love to make it permanent.

“He’s 21, a midfield player and he’s got five goals since the turn of the year, so of course we want him – but we have to respect that he’s Arsenal’s player.

“I’m sure Arsenal will have big discussions this summer, but if there’s a possibility that we can bring him back we’d love to do it.”

Steve Bruce – 18 July 2021:

“As I’ve said, it’s really Arsenal’s decision, and until Arsenal make a decision – a bit like all the big clubs, they have a look over pre-season – we’ll keep monitoring and badgering away.

“We’d love to do something but it’s still Arsenal’s call.”

Steve Bruce – 23 July 2021:

“With Joe Willock, we just have to be patient with it.

“Will Arsenal let him out? Will they sell him? – those are the questions we keep asking Arsenal.

“We’ll keep bashing away at one or two things. It’s been difficult for every club.”

Steve Bruce – 30 July 2021:

“We can’t wait forever. We’ve made it pretty obvious all summer that he’s our number one target. We’ll keep working away at it and see if something can develop.

“But, there comes a cut-off period.”

The message all along has been the only thing Newcastle United are waiting for, is Arsenal to allow Joe Willock to leave. Never once has it been suggested that anything else could potentially scupper the deal, such as the player wanting competitive market level wages to come to our crazy club.

In these past six or seven months, just over half of that time he was at Newcastle United and in daily contact with Steve Bruce and with easy access for anybody else (has anybody seen Lee Charnley?) at Newcastle United, are we supposed to believe that nobody ever thought to ask: ‘Hey Joe, if Arsenal are up for selling you, do you want any wages if Newcastle United buy you?’

Steve Bruce has time and time again put the message out that this transfer window was all about Joe Willock, this used time and time again as a supposedly valid reason as to why not a single NUFC signing had happened so far, whilst every other Premier League club had done business (currently the 19 Premier League clubs have paid in excess of £800m for well over 70 players now). We were waiting to see what the Joe Willock situation was.

Now we are supposed to believe that still no signings have happened because NUFC are suddenly surprised at what Joe Willock is wanting if he is to sign for Newcastle United. Whether that be wages and / or a guaranteed escape route via a release clause, or whatever.

Once again we are left wondering what really is the problem this time, like so many times before, like me I’m guessing many (most?) of you will be deliberating between two possibilities…

Is this Mike Ashley playing games yet again and messing both ourselves and Joe Willock about, or is it just pure incompetence from the owner and his minions?

The longer this drags on, it then simply opens up all kinds of possibilities as to why Joe Willock might end up NOT signing for Newcastle United. The player may simply tire of Newcastle’s refusal to agree to what he wants, another club or clubs may come in and take the midfielder instead, or Arsenal do a u-turn and decide they aren’t prepared to wait any longer and make Joe Willock part of their first team squad for the new season.

However, you want to look at it, the bottom line is that Newcastle United will kick off on Sunday and not have a single new signing in place to be part of the matchday squad. This is day 65 of the transfer window, only 19 more to go, what a shambles.

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