Arsenal: First fixtures of 2021/22 Premier League season
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Mikel Arteta has backtracked on his previous stance regarding Joe Willock in what will come as a bitter blow for Newcastle United. The Spaniard is now reportedly keen to keep hold of the midfielder, effectively putting an end to the Magpies’ transfer pursuit after Willock enjoyed a successful loan spell in the north-east last season.
The 21-year-old sealed a temporary move to St James’ Park in January, going on a sensational run to score in his final seven Premier League games in a row.
That streak matched a longstanding club record set by none other than Alan Shearer, although Willock managed the feat in just 14 appearances.
The latest development from north London suggests that the player will not get the chance to extend the run, however, as he buckles down at the Emirates for the upcoming season.
His goal-scoring prowess came out of nowhere, having bagged just once in 40 Premier League appearances during his four seasons with Arsenal.
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With a point firmly proven on Tyneside, Arteta is keen to see what the England youngster has got during their upcoming pre-season matches, according to the Daily Mail.
A starting-quality midfielder would be high on the Gunners’ priority list this summer, in the wake of numerous high-profile exits from the club.
Matteo Guendouzi, Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos have all left the club, while the likes of Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira look almost certain to follow.
Willock showed himself to be a powerful runner with the ball at his feet in Newcastle, with enough physical capabilities to operate in a two-man midfield.
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At the start of the summer, Arteta was reportedly content to let the player leave in search of regular football, but the Spaniard has recently backtracked on his previous stance.
The report also states that the Arsenal boss has been pleasantly surprised by the manner in which Willock has put in the hard yards in training, seemingly keen to build on his momentum from last season’s successful loan spell.
To attain his services permanently would have set Newcastle back around £20million, a significant investment, but they now face the prospect of scouring the market for alternatives.
With big names like Renato Sanches, Manuel Locatelli and Yves Bissouma being earmarked to bolster the Gunners midfield, Willock could still face stiff competition to regain a spot in the side.
The signing of Belgian U21 midfielder Albert Sambi Lokonga also looks destined for completion, a fellow 21-year-old who looks set to mark the start of Arsenal’s midfield revamp.
Last season, Joe Willock’s Premier League career took off, although it was away from the Emirates. Arteta has clearly seen something in the player which suggests he could rediscover that form in the famous red and white.
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