Joe Willock says the time is right after leaving Arsenal to complete his return to Newcastle United on a permanent transfer.
Willock, 21, has been back with Arsenal in pre-season after excelling on loan at Newcastle in the second half of last season. The north-east club have been working on getting him back throughout the summer, though. Now, after overcoming many obstacles, they have finally got their man.
Steve Bruce confirmed at a press conference earlier on Friday that Willock was undergoing a medical. He also clarified that the midfielder would sign a six-year contract.
But the deal was not official at that point, leaving him in doubt for Newcastle’s season opener. Now, the transfer has gone through, bringing a positive conclusion to the Magpies’ summer-long pursuit.
However, the club confirmed that Willock has not been registered in time for the first game of the season against West Ham on Sunday. Instead, he will be available for their trip to face Aston Villa on Saturday 21st August.
He will hope to pick up from where he left off, having scored in each of his last seven appearances at the back end of last season.
“I’m buzzing to be here,” Willock told nufc.co.uk. “I loved my time here last season and I’m really happy to be back and to be a Newcastle United player.
“Leaving Arsenal is obviously a big step, and I’d like to thank everyone involved with the club for all their support over the years, but this is the right move to the right club at the right time for me.
“I only got one chance to play in front of a smaller number of Newcastle fans as a home player last season, so I can’t wait to step out in front of a packed St. James’ Park and experience that atmosphere.
“Come on, you Maggies!”
Willock will wear the number 28 shirt for Newcastle again this season, as he did after joining them in January.
One of our own…
— Arsenal (@Arsenal) August 13, 2021
He has now left Arsenal on a permanent basis after making 78 appearances with 11 goals for them. While he may have some regrets about that, he knows he is returning to a club where he fit in well last season.
Bruce praises ‘wonderful’ Willock
For that reason, he was Newcastle’s main target all summer. Bruce is happy to have completed the £25m deal.
“I’m absolutely delighted to secure our number one target,” the manager said.
“We have had to be patient and persistent, but it has been worth the wait to bring Joe back.
“I want to thank Lee Charnley in particular for the work he has put in to make the deal happen. The club have gone above and beyond to make it possible.
“Joe is a wonderful young player with all the attributes you want in a midfielder, and he certainly proved that during his time with us last season.
“This is a move I know our supporters really wanted us to make, and I know they will join me in giving Joe a very warm welcome back to St. James’ Park.”