The 21-year-old has strongly linked been linked with a return to St James’ Park after a wonderfully successful loan spell towards the second half of last season.
Manager Steve Bruce is thought to have been pushing for an answer from Arsenal during what was been a frustrating summer for the club, having been unable to bring anyone in yet. Still, Newcastle expect to know whether or not the north London giants will allow their midfielder to depart within the next 48 hours and are optimistic about the prospect of the player returning.
How important was Joe Willock to Newcastle?
Obviously, the fact he scored eight goals in fourteen games made him perhaps the standout player of the season on Tyneside last time out.
Clearly, given the relative paucity of goals outside of Callum Wilson in Bruce’s team, that sort of firepower is desperately needed at St James’ Park but it is not the only reason as to why Willock was so popular. Indeed, according to FBREF data, the England U21 international also boasted the highest averages for tackles won (2.29) and interceptions (2.94) per game in the Newcastle squad last season.
A dynamic presence in the middle of the park, his energy had a transformative effect on the club and it’s scary to think where Bruce’s side might have ended up without him.
What has Steve Bruce said about Willock?
Speaking back in April, Bruce hinted Willock was the kind of the player he’d love to build the club around.
“I think Joe’s thoroughly enjoying it here,” he said (via The Guardian).
“There’s a lot of conversations to be had but why wouldn’t we want to sign him? He’s 21, he’s young, fit, athletic, he can score a goal and he’s got wonderful pace. Arguably Joe is as quick as anyone at this club.”