Hale End graduate, Joe Willock joined Newcastle on a permanent basis at the start of last season and has admitted it hurt when he realised Arsenal wanted to sell him.
Joe Willock initially joined Newcastle United on loan at the beginning of 2021 where he impressed the Geordie faithful by scoring eight goals in 14 games for the Magpies. His brilliant form throughout the loan spell meant Steve Bruce was desperate for the club to sign the Arsenal star on a permanent basis at the start of the following season.
It was clear Newcastle wanted to keep him, but it also wouldn’t have been surprising to see Arsenal pushing to bring him back. In the end Mikel Arteta decided to cash in on the 23-year-old which Willock admits hurt when he realised the Gunners were looking to sell.
Joe Willock speaking to The Telegraph:
“I remember that summer going back to Arsenal and I didn’t know what to do. I’d enjoyed the loan but to make it permanent was a big call. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave Arsenal.”
“I probably thought I was going to go back and things would be the same. I’d be working to break into the first team again and everything would be familiar and comfortable.”
“When the talk of a permanent move started I wasn’t sure, you know. The fans probably made that decision easier but also Steve Bruce. He really fought to bring me here, he was great for me.”
“We had loads of conversations on the phone that summer. I wasn’t valued at Arsenal, that became clear. When I had a meeting with them, it was obvious they wanted me to go. Yeah, it hurt.”
“I would probably have drifted for another year had I stayed. I’d been there since I was four-and-a-half years old. I’d given my life to Arsenal.”
“At that meeting, it just felt like my time was up. I didn’t feel valued anymore and that was it, I was going to sign for Newcastle after that.”
Arsenal ended up selling Joe Willock for a fee of £30million and used the money to bring in now club captain, Martin Odegaard from Real Madrid. I think it’s fair to say the decision to sell Willock was the correct one for all parties involved.
Joe Willock is an important player under Eddie Howe at Newcastle this season, who are fighting for a Champions League spot ahead of next season. The 23-year-old has made 34 league appearances in 2022/23, scoring three goals and recording six assists.
Also the man Arsenal brought in to replace Willock, Martin Odegaard is having the best season of his career to date. The Norwegian has scored 15 goals and recorded eight assists in the Premier League so far this campaign.
Joe Willock might have been hurt when he was told his boyhood club wanted to let him go, however I’m sure he’s happy with how the move has worked out for himself and the two clubs involved.