During the post game interview, Mikel Arteta was very aggressive in his defence of Emile Smith Rowe.
Asked if he is determined to keep Smith Rowe despite Aston Villa’s interest, Arteta said: “Without a question, yes. He will stay here, 100 per cent”.
When asked about Joe Willock’s future, his answer was a little more wet.
“Joe is part of our plans, he’s our player and in the time that he is here we will try to make the most out of him.”
Willock was fantastic at Newcastle scoring 8 goals in his 14 league games. In his short spell for them he fell in love with the city and Newcastle fans fell in love with him.
The feeling is he wants to return to Newcastle.
At 21 he needs to make decisions in the best interest of his career.
He can stay at the club he grew up supporting, and continue to be a bit part player or he can join someone like Newcastle and get regular first team football.
In the 6 months in the North East, Willock started 11 Premier League games. In the 4 seasons he was part of Arsenal’s first team, he started just 12.
Were he to stay at Arsenal, he would still be a fringe player. Behind the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and any new signings to play in his preferred advanced midfield.
At Newcastle he would be straight back in the first team. Playing week in week out.
Newcastle fans will cheer his name from day one. Already giving him hero status after he saved them from relegation. The air is different at Arsenal. Fans will grumble when his name is on the team sheet. The online abuse that he is not good enough will not go away.
It is easy to understand why he might want a move away. To really kick start his senior career.
The stumbling block is whether Arsenal and Newcastle can come to a deal.
Everything is up in the air at St James’ as the potential takeover by a Saudi consortium heads for the courts.
With everything going on, it would be surprising if any big transfers were “signed off”.
You also have the impact that Covid19 has had on finances.
A loan deal for Willock is more likely, with an obligation to buy.
I think this summer you will see a lot of deals done on loan with an agreement to buy next summer (similar to Matteo Guendouzi’s move to Marseille). This benefits both clubs:
1) The buying club can ick the debt down the road knowing that in 12 months time they would have had a 2nd full year of season ticket money.
2) The selling club can access the funds they are due by selling it on to a factoring company.
So if Arsenal agree to loan Willock to Newcastle with a fee of £20million agreed in 12 months, Arsenal could sell that debt to a finance company for £19million which they would get immediately.
In 12 months time, Newcastle would owe that £20million to the finance company who would make an easy £1million on the deal. It is something that happens regularly in football when teams pay in instalments.
So do not be surprised if over the next week Willock joins Newcastle on loan, with a small upfront payment and an obligation to buy next summer.
Arsenal then sell the debt, in the same way they would have done with the incoming Guendouzi fee, and boost their own transfer funds.
I would be very surprised if Willock is not playing in black and white next summer.