Newcastle head coach Steve Bruce has vowed to test Arsenal’s resolve to hang on to midfielder Joe Willock after admitting his exploits at St James’ Park have served as a “double-edged sword”.
The 21-year-old midfielder became the youngest man to score in six consecutive Premier League games in midweek to further enhance his loan spell on Tyneside, although Gunners boss Mike Arteta indicated on Friday morning that the Magpies’ hopes of securing his services on a longer-term basis would be in vain.
Asked whether Willock will return, Arteta said on Friday: “Yes, and I’m really happy that things have gone so well for him because of the potential that Joe has.
“I think it was great for him to go away and have a different experience. He has grabbed that opportunity in a really remarkable and positive way. He will be back with us, we will have those conversations with him and plan the next years for him.”
However, Bruce seems up for the fight, he said: “We always said that it was a double-edged sword, and we have to respect that he is Arsenal’s player.
“We’ll see over the summer whether we can test their resolve, but as I said from day one, I’d like to thank Mikel and Steve Round and the football side of it because they were instrumental in getting me him and letting us borrow him for a few months.
“It’s been great. He’s been great for us, he’s been great for Newcastle. He’s done well and propelled himself into – when I see what he’s done in the last few weeks and the names who have scored six in six, it’s quite remarkable, so well done to Joe.
“Let’s see. As I’ve said many, many times now, I’ve got total respect. Let’s not disrespect Arsenal, he is their player.”
Bruce also revealed Willock and his father/agent, Charles, have “enjoyed it up here”.
Speaking about his transfer plans for the summer Bruce said: “My job is always to knock the door and, believe me, I will knock the door as hard as I can. That’s my job but, usually, I go through my CEO, Lee, and he’s fed up of me knocking the door.
“I think we need at least three or four but, for me, now, it’s adding that bit of quality to the squad.
“We’ve seen the impact that Callum’s had for example…that bit of quality we can add to the existing squad we’ve got is the most important thing.”
Bruce would not be drawn on whether Mike Ashley’s rise in the Sunday Times rich list would positively affect the budget: “If that’s right, then, good for him.”