Revealed! Newcastle United do Joe Willock deal groundwork as swift progress hoped for on Arsenal man's return
Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock could fly north as soon as this weekend as Newcastle United look set to tie down a deal for their former loan man.
The Gazette understands all parties are keen for a deal to be struck prior to the Gunners' pre-season tour to America – due in no small part to the travel complications that may pose. Arsenal face Inter Milan in the Florida Cup on Saturday, July 25 and are due to set off across the pond after their friendly with Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday.
And, it is understood, flight spots have been provisionally booked by the Magpies, with the hope Willock, with his family and representatives, will be on board to seal the deal in the North East.
While Willock was pictured in Edinburgh for Mikel Arteta s men's Hibs friendly on Tuesday, the 21-year-old is not expected to be in Glasgow for the clash with the Scottish Premiership champions. Willock missed the Easter Road defeat with an 'injury', according to Arteta.
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Instead, it is hoped Willock will be on Tyneside, becoming United and Steve Bruce's first signing of the summer.
It is not known whether the deal will have an option or obligation to buy the player next summer.
Willock proved a sensational signing for the Magpies in January, netting eight goals in 14 starts, including seven in seven at the end of the 2020/21 campaign.
The midfielder is thought to be keen to secure first-team football next season – and that could not be guaranteed by Arteta at the Emirates.
Speaking about Willock on Tuesday evening, Arteta said: “Well, he wasn’t involved today, because he had a little groin issue. He trained yesterday really well, but we didn’t want to risk him.
“Joe’s part of our plans – he’s our player – and in the time that he’s here, we’ll try to make the most out of him. He had a great experience on loan. He was, I think, one of the most important players for their survival.”
Bruce pledged to “test the resolve” of Arsenal to keep Willock in May.
"We’ll see over the summer whether we can test their resolve,” he said.
"He’s been great for us. He’s been great for Newcastle. He’s done well. Let’s see.”