Willock rejects Newcastle role and sends message to Arteta over Arsenal future

Steve Bruce knew Joe Willock wouldn’t like it when Des Kelly asked if his on-loan star was their "super sub".

That proved to be the case when Kelly posed the question to Willock himself and he rejected any notion that was now his role.

“No, that’s not my label!” Willock protested.

He may not like it, but "super sub" is exactly what Willock was at Anfield was as he came off the bench to net a classy equaliser with the last kick of the game.

It was his third goal in his last four games as he makes the most out of a loan spell at St James’ Park.

Whilst rejecting the notion he could be permanently stuck with the label, he could not hide his smile in the post-game interview.

“I’m just trying to give my best, even if I get 10, 15 minutes, half an hour,” Willock declared.

“I’m really enjoying my football at the moment at Newcastle and I’m glad I could help the team again today.”

The importance of such moments is not lost on Mikel Arteta, who discussed his on-loan youngster just a few days ago.

“I'm really happy with Joe because he scored a massive goal for their club,” Arteta said.

“So when he produces big moments like that, for a young talent like him it's very satisfying.”

Willock’s performances have helped drag Newcastle to the brink of Premier League survival, and that impact is no surprise to the Spaniard.

“Joe can do it, he's got the ability and the desire and now he needs more consistency in terms of minutes and performances,” Arteta added.

“That's great for his development and that's why we believed it [the loan to Newcastle] was the right option.”

In many ways, the plan has worked perfectly for Arsenal.

Willock has always been viewed as a talent with first-team potential, but with the Gunners unable to give him the game-time needed to develop, a move elsewhere was deemed the right course of action.

He is now converting his raw potential into crucial moments in the top flight, and his latest strike against Liverpool undoubtedly staked a claim for a fresh chance in north London.

The situation, however, is complicated by just how well he has performed.

With Newcastle closing in on survival, Bruce has admitted he would love to sign Willock permanently.

“He’s a young lad and I’d love to keep him here and we will have some big conversations with Arsenal [about keeping him],” Bruce recently declared.

For Willock’s part, he made it clear after the game at Anfield that he is increasingly loving life in the north-east.

“I’m a Newcastle player at the moment, I’m enjoying every game and every week,” he stated.

“I’m learning more, I’m getting closer to the boys every week, so I’m really enjoying my football at the moment.”

The chance to be a key part of Newcastle’s future and carve a major role could be a tempting opportunity for Willock as he looks to the bigger picture.

Ultimately, however, the ball is in Arsenal’s court, and Arteta has made it clear he is watching the 21-year-old closely.

Given their recent struggles, many believe Willock has done enough to warrant a second look from Arteta and a chance to show how he has improved ahead of next season.

Either way, it is a win-win with reports Newcastle could consider paying up to £20million to sign him permanently and net the Gunners a tidy profit.

Whilst rejecting the role of “super sub”, Willock could have choices over his future in the coming weeks if his recent purple patch continues.

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