Does Joe Willock has a future at Arsenal?
Joe Willock has torn Tyneside apart since his loan move from Arsenal. The Englishman has scored six goals in his 12 appearances for Newcastle United.
He has netted the joint second-most goals for Steve Bruce’s side this season. But the intriguing thing is that he was not a Newcastle player for the entirety of the first half of the season.
The 21-year-old’s ‘minutes per goal’ ratio at St. James Park is superior than the second best Callum Wilson, who is the top-scorer for the Toons. Willock has found the net every 134 minutes for Newcastle, while Wilson has done it every 184 minutes.
His shot accuracy and conversion rate is also clearly better than his new teammates. Both those numbers stand at 46% and 77%.
By no means whatsoever his goals have come against teams in the bottom-half of the league. Willock has now already scored against the likes of Tottenham, Liverpool, West Ham United, Leicester City and more recently against Manchester City.
There is one thing in common among those teams mentioned above. All are either fighting to play in Europe or they are already one of the best teams in Europe.
Thus, scoring against teams of such high caliber will only increase the Arsenal loanee’s stock come summer.
The first deciding factor of why Willock has performed so well for The Magpies is down to their formation.
Steve Bruce like to put two strikers up front and balancing it out with five defenders. That leaves three players in the midfield area giving the formation of 5-3-2. Willock is usually tasked to cover the spaces between the right-wing back and the central defensive midfielder. But with three center-backs already covering his back, the 21-year-old has license to join the team upfield.
With his athleticism, he also falls back to provide a pillar of support to the Newcastle backline. Even though he has played as a ‘central midfielder’ for Newcastle, he hasn’t actually been at the center.
And that’s why he has looked so dangerous. Arriving late in the penalty box (his goal against Sp*rs), involving himself in a counter attack (his goal against Leicester) and then finishing of a team move by scoring a late equalizer at Anfield.
Willock has done it all in his time at St. James Park.
This is a player who will definitely be a ‘priority signing’ for Newcastle United.
But should Arsenal cash in on him or develop him further at the Emirates Stadium? That’s the million-dollar question.
Joe Willock, keep or sell?
— The Arsenal Review (@thearsreview) May 14, 2021
This poll which was done by The Arsenal review, at the time of writing, had 631 votes. Almost 65% of the people want to keep him.
Two fans’ opinions which are striking more or less tell us that Arsenal have a tricky situation on their hands. The first person commented, “I think his price tag will never be higher so I’d sell because realistically he’ll never be good enough for us to become the best in England and Europe which is the ultimate goal.”
The other person, who wants to keep Willock, comments, “Currently he has a skill set that we don’t have. Goals from midfield when we’re often chasing a game. Had we kept him we could well be in a Europa final.”
Both statements are somewhat true, based on how you see it. The 21-year-old has not been a player who has contributed to Arsenal massively.
In his 78 appearances for Arsenal, he only has 15 goal involvements. This is a player who made his first team debut on 15th April 2018. It has been more than three years!
Nobody can argue that he has not been given enough chances to shine. On the other end of the spectrum, players younger than him like Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli, who broke the first-team scene later, have had far more goal contributions than the current Newcastle man.
Edu and Mikel Arteta have big decisions to make. If Arsenal do receive offers of around £30 million, it might be better to cash in on him and raise money for positions which the Gunners definitely need strengthening at.
Arsenal should not even enter negotiations with clubs who value him less than 20 million. If the Red and White are unable to get the ‘true value’ of him this summer, extending his contract and then either giving him first-team opportunities or loaning him out might be the best solution.
Whatever they end up doing, they need to be ruthless. They need to prove that this is a club that is active not passive.