Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has revealed that he doesn’t know where Joe Willock’s future lies following interest from Newcastle United – a telling line after he insisted he’d be staying back in May?
This comes after Steve Bruce said on Friday night that we “can’t wait forever” for a final decision on the 21-year-old’s availability, having made a loan enquiry following his return to North London.
Speaking after Willock played 20 minutes in yesterday’s pre-season defeat to Chelsea, the Arsenal boss said he ‘hopes’ the midfielder can stay focused and continue to train well amid speculation of a potential return to Tyneside – reminding him that he is still their player as they prepare for the new 2021/22 season.
Here’s what Arteta had to say when asked if Willock (and Bellerin) had futures at the club:
“I don’t know.
“I’m going to coach them and train them, and respect and look after everybody because they are our players.
“Hopefully they can have their minds here and prepare here because they are Arsenal players and our job is to make them as good as we can.”
Others may disagree, but Arteta’s refusal to say “he is staying” makes me believe these comments are all part of a drawn out transfer game that features Arsenal trying to get the best price possible.
I believe Arteta’s indecision speaks volumes and think they’d soon accept a £20m bid if we had the funds to make one.
On the other hand, I reckon he’s likely to become available on loan in the final few weeks of the window, with the Xhaka U-turn and signing of Lokonga not helping his bid for regular game time. The question is, how much longer will we wait for a final decision on that front?
Here’s a reminder of what Bruce said when asked about Willock after our 2-0 win at Burton:
“We are doing our utmost to try to make Joe Willock work, we are doing everything we possibly can.
He is Arsenal’s player and we must respect that. But, we can only explore it for so long – and that time is going a bit short.”
“We can’t wait forever.
“We’ve made it pretty obvious all summer that he’s our number one target, so we’ll keep working away at it and see if something can develop.
“But, there comes a cut-off period.”
“We haven’t made a bid for anybody – yet. We’ve got one or two irons in the fire.
“I’m confident that we’ll bring two or three new players in, but we’ll have to wait another week or so.”