While conducting a Q&A on The Chronicle‘s website, Mark Douglas has mooted two names as potential alternatives to Joe Willock.
What’s the latest Newcastle United news?
The Arsenal loanee would appear to be a major target for Newcastle this summer after a hugely successful stint in black and white, though Mikel Arteta has spoken of how he wants the 21-year-old back in North London next season.
With that in mind, Douglas mentioned Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher (who was linked with a move before he joined West Brom on loan) and Huddersfield’s Lewis O’Brien (linked by The Sun in April) as potential alternatives.
How do they compare to Willock?
Neither Gallagher nor O’Brien were able to score as many goals as Willock though their underlying numbers aren’t too far off, albeit with the obvious caveat that the latter is playing in the Championship.
Both averaged more tackles per game (2.7 and 2 respectively to Willock’s 1.9 via WhoScored) as well as more key passes (0.7 and 1.1 to 0.6). Of the trio, Gallagher won the most fouls (2.1) while O’Brien recorded the most assists (3).
None of that would be to suggest they are better players than Willock – who surely has to be the priority given the success of his loan spell – but they do appear to be dynamic central midfielders, something Newcastle were severely lacking at the start of the season.
Who should Newcastle go for?
Clearly, Willock would be the most popular addition. Indeed, he matched Alan Shearer’s record for consecutive games scored in and appears to have built up quite the rapport with star man Allan Saint-Maximin.
Still, if he does prove too expensive (figures of £20m have been mentioned), Gallagher’s experience in the Premier League surely makes him a more attractive alternative. Averaging more tackles than O’Brien in a higher division and more key passes than Willock, the Chelsea youngster looks a better option to pursue if it comes to that.