Paul Merson believes Joe Willock will see Arsenal as a bigger club than Newcastle and fight for his place at the Emirates next season.
That said, the Sky Sports pundit predicts he and his agent will be knocking on the club’s door to push for a January move if he’s not getting enough game time under Arteta – suggesting we might end up getting the chance to sign him in January.
Willock was a sensation for us after signing on loan back in January, bagging 8 goals in 14 games – including a record-equalling goal on the final day at Fulham to match Shearer’s run of seven in seven.
Widespread calls among the fanbse are demanding that our hierarchy go all out to make sure the youngster is wearing black-and-white once again come August, with a fee in the region of £20m being mooted.
However, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta has hinted at keeping Willock at the club and wants to take a closer look at him in preseason. Arsenal legend Merson agrees, feeling he should be in the Arsenal team following his impressive run of form – but could soon leave if he’s not given the minutes he’ll now be demanding:
“Three weeks ago maybe, you’re looking and thinking, what’s he gone there for, he’s sub for Newcastle now, and now he’s just beat the record (youngest player to score in six consecutive games).”
“If he comes back now, he’s got to be in the team.”
“No disrespect to Newcastle, but Newcastle are not above Arsenal and we’ve got to be honest with that.”
“I would come back and have a go.
“I would 100% come back and say, you know what, I want to give it a go at Arsenal.
“If he isn’t in the team in six months, he goes in with his agent [to look for a move away in January] and goes “you know what, I’m never gonna make it at Arsenal.”
It’s hard to disagree with Merson here; after all, Willock is a boyhood Gooner and the main reason he came to us in the first place was to help break into the Arsenal team.
If you played for Newcastle, impressed out on loan at a Championship side, and had a chance to break into our team next season…what would you do? Just look at Freddie Woodman. Swansea have given him more games in a few months than we have in three or four years, yet he’s already stated in end-of-season interviews that he’s fully focused on becoming the No.1 at Newcastle United – and he’s not even a Geordie!
I know I won’t hold anything against Willock if he wants to stay and fight at his hometown team. But, if first-team chances are hard to come by and he needs a move away, I’ll be equally as happy to welcome him back with open arms!