Steve Bruce can discover the new Michael Carrick by urging Mike Ashley to see that Newcastle United sign Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock on loan.
According to the Daily Mail, the Toon are pushing through efforts to convince Mikel Arteta to sanction a half-season deal for Willock to see out the remainder of the term at St. James’ Park.
The 21-year-old has spent the first part of the campaign used as a substitute at the Emirates Stadium, but the Gunners have reservations over the Magpies’ interest due to discussions to allow Ainsley Maitland-Niles to join either West Brom or Southampton on loan.
Willock is eager to play regular first-team football after starting only two of his seven Premier League appearances this term, while playing just 14 minutes in 2021 after being left an unused substitute of Saturday’s 0-0 draw with Manchester United.
The £14.5m-rated gem had been a regular of Arteta’s plans in the Europa League Group Stage, scoring three and assisting three goals in the UEFA contest, and featured for 66 minutes against Newcastle in the FA Cup third-round tie but played no part of their fourth round defeat to Southampton.
Bruce has been pushing for a new box-to-box midfielder to join Newcastle all winter, and will be loath to end Deadline Day without the Toon welcoming an energetic dynamo to St. James’ Park who he feels can bring a driving force to the engine room.
Willock could be just who Bruce is after, as long as Ashley and Managing Director Lee Charnley are able to convince Arteta to part with the 21-year-old he lauds for his “very special” qualities.
The England U21 international has shown in the Europa League this season, and in almost every season since making his senior Arsenal debut, that he can score and assist goals from midfield, but offers far more beyond just his end product.
Trevor Sinclair has likened Willock to former Manchester United midfielder and serial title-winner Michael Carrick for his ability on the ball, having been thrown into the deep end in north London but come out swimming at the other end.
“I think Joe Willock, at Arsenal, has done well and he could be another one for Euro 2021,” Sinclair told talkSPORT, via quotes by The Boot Room. “He’s been thrown in at the deep end, but he’s done well. He’s neat and tidy and good on the ball. He reminds me a bit of Michael Carrick.”
Not only has Willock been thrown in at the deep end, but also thrown in almost anywhere and everywhere for the Gunners. The 21-year-old has featured in the holding midfield role, as the box-to-box option, on the wing or in an attacking midfield capacity, showing how he can more than comfortably deliver Bruce what he is looking for.
He’s certainly not afraid to drive forward with the ball at his feet, too, with Willock recording 0.8 successful dribbles with a 44% success rate in the Europa League this term and providing 0.8 accurate crosses once at the top of the pitch, per SofaScore.
Only Jonjo Shelvey (1.15) and Miguel Almiron (0.89) push up the pitch with the ball at their feet in Premier League fixtures more often than Willock has in Europe this season, among Bruce’s current central midfield group. Shelvey is also the only one to offer a higher average number of crosses (0.92).
So, if Ashley and Charnley can convince Arsenal and Arteta to sanction a deal, Bruce would stand to sign an upgrade and one who could prove unquestionably to be the new Carrick with a regular run in the side.
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