Free agent Jetro Willems says he would love to return to Newcastle United after admitting he has maintained a strong interest in the club since injury forced him to leave.
The 27-year-old defender joined the Magpies on a season-long loan in August 2019. He started 18 Premier League games among 19 appearances and scored twice before disaster struck. The former Netherlands international suffered a season-ending knee injury in January 2020.
He left when his deal expired in July of that year and returned to parent club Eintracht Frankfurt. There were varying reports last year that his career might be over.
But he battled back to fitness and regained his place in the Bundesliga side’s squad. However, manager Adi Hutter failed to hand him even one minute of playing time.
He made the bench on 13 occasions but was left frustrated on the sidelines. The Curacao-born ace is now available for nothing after being let go by Die Adler.
And he told The Chronicle just how frustrating it has been watching from the bench.
“It hasn’t been easy all this time but I’ve been ready to play since December,” he said. “I was in the squad for half a year – obviously I didn’t get the chance to show myself and to play for some reasons and everyone knows what they are.
“But I’m feeling good, my knee is really good and everything feels great. I’m ready.”
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Willems keen but red tape needs sorting
Willems was unable to walk properly for months after the injury. But he never gave up hope of playing again and worked tirelessly to regain fitness.
Able to play on the left side of midfielder or at left-back, he would give Steve Bruce options. There may be an issue regarding a work permit over his lack of games in the post-Brexit era.
But his previous spell on Tyneside and 22 caps for the Dutch would help his cause. It remains to be seen where he ends up. But Willems has made it clear he would love to wear black and white once again.
“Of course Newcastle is a very nice option for me. I was there for a long time – like, half a year – and I was enjoying the moment there,” he added. “It’s a great option and it’s a club which knows me, I know them. It would be great to join them.”
Willems is close friends with Allan Saint-Maximin and has said all the right things for a move back to the club.
“I watch every Newcastle game and me and Allan still chat a lot,” he continued. “He’s a great guy, a great player and in those final games of the season you saw how important he is for the team in a different way, in a different role.”