Mikel Arteta has hinted at a possible reunion with Joe Willock when the 21-year old’s loan spell comes to an end this month.
The Arsenal youngster has been impressive in his short stint on Tyneside and has bagged three in his last three after coming off the bench, including a last-gasp equaliser against Liverpool last weekend.
We have been linked with a permanent move for the midfielder – for around £20m – but the possibility of another loan deal has also been mooted.
Here is what Arteta has had to say about the midfielder’s future:
“He has a chance (of playing for Arsenal next season).
“He’s a player we really like, so, at the end of the season, he’ll come back here, and then we’ll make the decision again for what is best to move forward.”
“He got some great qualities, some unique qualities to play in that position.
“He’s a real threat in the opponent’s box, physically he can do anything you ask for, and has got the right mentality, is good technically, and he’s English.
“We knew all this, but he needed game time, he needed to expose himself away from our environment, and we believe as well that Newcastle, Steve and his staff, is the right place for him to do that.”
Although it’s a concern to hear Arteta talk up his chances of returning to his Arsenal side, the second line suggest to me that another loan deal might be possible? He isn’t speaking like a man keen to sell him, but may feel he needs another year away.
That said, if Bruce wants to sway Arsenal and Willock’s mind about keeping him at Newcastle, then why doesn’t he start playing him?
He has shown quality and desire from the bench and, to be brutally honest, the points he has saved recently have helped keep us in the Premier League – and Bruce in a job.
Another loan deal makes sense but Arsenal’s slip into mid-table mediocrity could be bad news for us as they may feel he can do a job for them next season – especially when Ceballos looks set to return to Real Madrid when his loan deal expires this summer.
Before the move, Willock was way down the pecking order under Arteta, having made just seven top flight appearances this campaign.
A resurgence in form may make Gunners chiefs consider blooding him in the first-team like they have with Smith-Rowe and Saka.