Joe Willock Needs a Loan by AI
Joe Willock has always been an interesting prospect for Arsenal: gangly but not very tall, a tenacious ball-carrier and box-penetrator from midfield, the Hale-End product is the last of the three Willock brothers and perhaps the most talented of the bunch.
In the shameful Europa League final outing against Chelsea last season, the 21-year-old showed what he’s about: a Ramsey-like tendency to surge into the box and attempt a shot that has a good chance of going in the net. He’s also an energetic pressing monster, able to apply pressure across large areas of the pitch. This hustle and bustle surely has a part to play in his selection by Emery, Ljunberg and Arteta.
But there is a sense of the ethereal about the youngster, some question mark about his exact purpose on a football field. Is Joe Willock supposed to help break down a defensive formation or help in the buildup phase? Is he supposed to play more than 60 passes a game or make that number of recoveries? What, exactly, is Joe Willock supposed to be great at?
His ball-carrying abilities are not at an elite level yet neither is his arrival in the penalty box guaranteed enough to organize a gameplan around. Against much weaker opposition, sure, the 21-year-old can play. But against Premier League opponents, nothing is yet clear about what he can really offer the club.
Joe, then, must be allowed to mature fully into the player he is. A loan resolves issues with game time, and a good one can help us discover what exactly Joe Willock has to offer. If we have another Ramsey on our hands, which is what this author thinks, then he can’t be let go even as his development continues.