Newcastle United have announced the loan signing of Joe Willock from Arsenal.
The 21-year old midfielder is slated to join Newcastle for the rest of the season and should provide a boost to a midfield group that lacks a true ball-carrying central midfielder.
Willock is a promising talent at Arsenal who has been somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of Emil Smith-Rowe and Ainsley Maitland Niles. That being said, it is worth noting that Willock had the most appearances out of any Arsenal player last season making 44 appearances, including starting the FA Cup final against Manchester City. This season Willock has racked up 17 appearances despite the signing of Thomas Partey, who is a similar type of player.
Willock’s biggest strength is his ability to carry the ball forward, which is precisely what this midfield needs at the moment. He’s a true box-to-box midfielder that should also shore up some of the defensive lapses we saw against Everton while also filling in the gaps offensively. His main competition for playing time will likely be the Longstaffs and Jeff Hendrick. I think at the moment Isaac Hayden and Jonjo Shelvey are not likely losing their places in the starting 11. Hayden is pivotal as a true number 6 in this new formation and Shelvey is likely going to be the interim captain with both Fernandez and Lascelles currently injured.
Another plus with the addition of Willock is that he is another athletic midfielder that should thrive when Newcastle chooses to press, and should not struggle covering other athletic midfielders. One of the biggest weaknesses of Newcastle’s midfield this season is a lack of athleticism. The midfield has been consistently dominated by other midfield pairings of more athletic players, and adding in anyone who can effectively keep up with some of the more athletic midfielders in the Premier League should be seen as a positive.
Willock likely won’t be available for selection in the match against Palace, but he should be in contention for Newcastle’s weekend matchup against Southampton.
Bruce had this to say about the latest addition to the squad
“I’m delighted to bring Joe to Newcastle until the end of the season. He is a very exciting and talented young player who can get up and down the pitch and can score a goal from midfield.
“He has made a very decent impact at Arsenal after coming through the ranks and to make nearly 80 appearances for the club by the age of 21 says much about his development, ability and character.
“He is very keen to come here and test himself and he’ll be a great addition to the squad.”
Willock himself had this to say about coming north to Newcastle.
“This is a club with a massive history that I’ve grown up watching and I’ll work my socks off for the team. I can’t wait to see everyone and be part of the Newcastle family.”
Mikel Arteta had some parting words regarding Willock and praised Bruce as well as Newcastle.
“At Newcastle United, he is going to a very good club with a top quality manager and staff. We all wish Joe the very best at Newcastle until the end of the season.”
This is likely the last bit of business for Newcastle this window, and effectively ends one of the most underwhelming winter windows in recent Premier League history. For more information on Willock be sure to check out a write-up on Willock from our friends over at The Short Fuse.