Steve Bruce has urged Arsenal to let Newcastle know one way or the other about Joe Willock.
Steve Bruce, Newcastle and Joe Willock have made no secret of their love for each other and, despite Mikel Arteta playing at wanting to keep Willock, it has always felt like he would end up moving late in the window.
Speaking after his side beat Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in a friendly on Friday, Steve Bruce was asked about Willock and was frank in his reply.
“Of course we want him back, he did great with us and gives us another dimension in midfield that we haven’t got,” the Magpies boss said.
“We’ll keep bashing away at it.
“With Arsenal, what are they going to do?’ he added.
“They’ve brought in two midfield players. That’s our starting point, with Joe, because let’s be fair, he had an unbelievable three or four months with us. But there has to be a time where we know – is it going to be yes or no?
“We’re only allowed two domestic loans, and we’re only allowed one from each club. So, there has to come a time when there’s a cut-off, and we have to find out what’s happening. We’re still trying our utmost, whether it’s on loan or to buy him. We’re still trying.
“I think everybody knows how difficult it’s going to be,’ he added. “We haven’t got a lot of money. As managers, you always want players and money to go and improve the team, that’s our job. But I don’t think I’m alone, I’ve never known it so quiet.
“We have to be patient. It’s very difficult, but with not a lot of money swashing around, supporters know it’s going to be very difficult.”
Around a week or so ago, we covered a report from The Telegraph that Newcastle United believed they were close to agreeing a deal for Willock on loan. As we pointed out then, the actual article was much less conclusive, leaving almost every possibility on the table.
Chris Wheatley has since spoken to ChronicleLive about the situation and given a similar assessment, suggesting a loan is likely but there are still a lot of possibilities.
For a start, if Willock does leave on loan, it may well be with a contract extension first. If he leaves permanently, the deal is likely to include clauses with an eye on the future (perhaps sell-on clauses, buy-back clauses, bonus clauses, and so on).
Clearly, nothing has been finalised just yet. Willock is keen on first-team football and Newcastle are probably the most likely to offer him that, but he’s still assessing his options at this stage.
Willock missed out on the friendly match against Hibs but was on the bench for the Rangers game. Arteta said after the Hibs game that Willock had a minor groin issue and they didn’t want to risk him.