Steve Bruce should push Newcastle United and Matty Longstaff to accept a half-season loan spell with Watford as the Toon reportedly near an agreement to sign Arsenal’s Joe Willock.
According to the Press Association’s Mark Mann-Bryans, talks are taking place between the Magpies and Gunners to reach a definitive agreement over the temporary transfer of Willock.
A deal for the midfielder to see out the rest of the season at St. James’ Park is now considered to be very likely, following reports over the weekend that United were urging Mikel Arteta to grant Willock permission to leave the Emirates Stadium.
Willock is keen to secure a half-season loan move on Deadline Day in order to play regular first-team football after a bit-part role under Arteta, who had been reluctant to lose the box-to-box 21-year-old due to the potential exit fellow Newcastle target Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
Willock has only played 14 minutes of Premier League football in 2021, while starting just two of his seven top-flight appearances all season. The £14.5m-rated gem was a more regular fixture of the Arsenal side during their Europa League Group Stage efforts, scoring three and assisting three goals in five games.
Newcastle signing Willock may end Bruce’s long-running search for a new midfielder in the winter market, with Matt Ritchie no longer returning to AFC Bournemouth after the Magpies reportedly rejected the Cherries’ offer.
Willock’s arrival on Tyneside may have a drastic impact on United’s Deadline Day business, having so far rejected approaches from Watford for academy graduate Longstaff, per the Daily Mail.
It is claimed the Toon are refusing to part with the 20-year-old on a six-month deal, following efforts by the Hornets to take Longstaff to Vicarage Road as a replacement for Leicester City target Nathaniel Chalobah amid their push for an immediate to the Premier League.
Newcastle are not in a position where they must listen to offers for Longstaff to free a squad spot for Willock to join, given the Magpies ace does not take up a place because of his age. But his chances of featuring will decrease with a deal for the Gunners talent, having already been slim in recent weeks.
Longstaff has not been given a role in any of Newcastle’s last three Premier League fixtures after been axed following last month’s 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, which marked only his fourth top-flight start of the season after a problematic and persistent thigh injury.
The £4.5m-rated gem had produced a solid start at the Emirates but lost his way in the second period, having been unable to replicate his performance against the champions when Longstaff proved ice cool in the engine room to dictate United’s game plan against Liverpool.
Bruce would likely have not needed to sign a replacement in Willock if Longstaff had been able to produce consistent performances, yet must now urge the Magpies and the Magpies product to leave on loan so that he can find his rhythm and come back even stronger.