Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock has signed on loan for Newcastle United for the remainder of the season.
The 21-year-old has struggled to play at the Emirates Stadium so far this season, having only seven times in the Premier League and starting just twice.
Willock made 44 appearances for Arsenal in all competitions last season and has been hailed as one of the brightest talents to emerge from the club’s academy recently. He was an unused replacement in their FA Cup final victory over Chelsea, but played the final 10 minutes of their Community Shield victory over Liverpool on penalties.
Following the confirmation of the deal, Newcastle boss Steve Bruce said: “I am delighted to bring Joe to Newcastle until the end of the season. He’s a very exciting and talented young player who can go up and down the pitch and score a goal from midfield.
“He had a very decent impact at Arsenal after rising through the ranks and making nearly 80 appearances for the club at the age of 21 says a lot about his development, his abilities and his character.
“He’s very keen to come here and test himself and he’ll be a great addition to the team.”
Willock is one of the many names who left Arsenal this month. Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos both saw their contracts terminated earlier this month, while Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Shkodran Mustafi left for West Brom and Schalke respectively.
Despite Arsenal’s lack of balance in midfield at times this season, Willock has barely been called upon by Mikel Arteta, and so the decision was made that a loan would be best for all parties. Arsenal have recently strengthened in the middle of the park as well, bringing in Martin Odegaard on loan from Real Madrid for the remainder of the season.
Willock is now heading for a Newcastle side to avoid being dragged into relegation. Their victory at Everton on Saturday ended an 11-game winless streak in all competitions and has now sidelined the drop zone by eight points.
The Magpies had been linked with a move for Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Idrissa Gueye, but reports in France claim the Senegal international turned down the chance to move to St James’ Park – when questioned on the report, manager Steve Bruce joked that he had actually been looking to bring in Neymar instead.