Exclusive - Arsenal have told Joe Willock that he is free to choose his own destination ahead of another loan away from the Emirates Stadium, with the 21-year-old midfielder indicating to the club that he wants to return to Newcastle after a successful spell there last season.
Despite previously making 44 first-team appearances for the Gunners during the 2019/20 campaign, Willock saw chances dry up in the first half of last season and made the temporary switch to Newcastle in the January transfer window.
The youngster went on to play a huge role in ensuring the Magpies steered well clear of relegation in the end, scoring eight goals in his 14 Premier League appearances.
It had begged the question over whether Willock would return to Arsenal as an important first-team player. But 90min understands that while manager Mikel Arteta is prepared to give Willock a chance this season, the role on offer is unlikely to see him play regularly like he wants.
“He's our player and in the time that he is here we will try to make the most out of him,” was the perhaps quite telling line that Arteta update on Willock’s future after this week’s pre-season game against Hibernian – ‘in the time that he is here’.
Newcastle have already opened talks with Arsenal over taking Willock on loan a second time and securing the signing is seen as a key move for the club, regardless of the ownership situation.
Mike Ashley is unwilling to sanction major spending while there is still hope that the Premier League’s decision to block the proposed Saudi Arabian takeover will be overturned on appeal. The club's finances have also been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
Arsenal are prepared to let Willock leave on loan again, although they want any such deal to include an obligation to buy for around £15m once certain criteria are met.
Willock has also had interest from Crystal Palace. His preference, however, is Newcastle.