Two years ago, loanee Salamon Rondon bidded farewell to NUFC and signed off in style with a goal against Fulham at Craven Cottage.
In his short time here, he bagged the goals that fired us to safety and the Toon Army grew an emotional attachment to a player who was never really ours in the first place.
A brief, passionate fling full of excitement and optimism. A £16million summer marriage seemed inevitable but a last minute objection from the frugal Mike Ashley cancelled those plans. Both parties were left devastated, and needing to move on…
Fast forward to the present and Joe Willock may be about to break our hearts once more. He, too, was also kind enough to say goodbye with a farewell gift at Craven Cottage.
Willock knocked us off our feet during his short stint in Newcastle. Despite his inexperience, the burden of being thrust into a struggling Steve Bruce side did not weigh heavy on his shoulders and his engine-like displays helped endear him to the hearts of every Toon fan in the land.
The Arsenal bridesmaid really did become the bride on Tyneside, showcasing his full repertoire on a honeymoon that saw him bag an impressive eight goals – including 7 in his final 7 games.
Craven Cottage provided the pick of the bunch, with Willock powering through the Fulham backline and blasting an effort beyond the hapless Marek Rodak.
Mike Ashley’s stubborn unwillingness to part with anything he has in his wallet prevented our love affair with Rondon from lasting long-term.
Us Toon fans could be forgiven for feeling a sense of deja vu with Willock, which is why the club must act in the coming weeks to try and persuade him to stay for at least another year.
Missing out on Rondon seemed, at the time, to be season defining in the most negative way possible. Our hopes were ultimately pinned on a goal-shy Joelinton and the 19/20 campaign was a real struggle in the opposition third.
The same can be said for Willock; if Ashley & Co don’t manage to re-sign him, you get the feeling that it could seriously derail our aspirations for next season.
If he heads back home to try and crack into Arsenal’s team – and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge him for doing so – it would leave a void of around £20million in our midfield. The chances of us hitting the jackpot with another Willock would be incredibly slim given our mixed fortunes in recent windows.
Let us pull out all the stops this summer to get him wearing black-and-white once again. A season-long loan with an option to buy would be the most sensible conclusion for all parties, including Ashley’s wallet!