Steve Bruce had made it pretty clear that he considered Joe Willock’s loan to be one of his top targets for January. It also presents itself as a potentially ideal location for Willock. Premier League competition and minutes, a team he will get a lot of the ball with, and the opportunity to make the leap in a less pressure-filled climate.
Willock made the most appearances of any Arsenal player last season, predominantly cup games and as a substitute, but those minutes have dried up. When people talk about the need to “take your chance”, Willock has been really hit or miss.
He played well and impressed in the Europa League group stages, even in a cup match or two, but hasn’t demonstrated that same level of skill and swagger when it comes to the Premier League. It’s likely a sign of the fact that he is better than the likes of Rapid Vienna or Molde, but has room to grow before he is consistently effective against Premier League quality.
The stark rise and success of someone like Emile Smith Rowe probably makes this reality even more of a fact. Given just a small opportunity, Smith Rowe has shown quite clearly what a player looks like when they are ready for that leap. Given the evidence, its quite clear that Willock was in need of a loan, more consistent play time, and team situation in which he could get on the ball and try to make things happen without the pressures that naturally come with Arsenal.
He will still have pressure in the form of keeping Newcastle in the Premier League, but given their 8 point cushion over Fulham and the rest of the bottom three, Newcastle look to be edging closer to another year of safety despite their month-long winless streak that just ended this weekend.
Willock will reunite with Isaac Hayden as the pair try to reshape Newcastle’s midfield for the better.
Willock will return to Arsenal at the end of the campaign, and there is little to suggest that Arsenal are intending on selling him over the summer. Whether he stays at Arsenal or goes back on loan remains to be seen. One source even eluded to the fact that Arsenal may agree to terms that see Willock return to Newcastle for the 2021-22 season as well.
That remains to be seen, but Willock going on loan looks to be complete.
Best of luck Joe!