Newcastle are on the brink of securing the signing of Joe Willock amid claims they could secure his signature ahead of their Premier League opener on Sunday.
The Magpies agreed a fee in the region of £25million with Arsenal over the weekend. However, they have since been locked in negotiations over the midfielder’s personal terms.
It’s reported the two parties were some distance apart with Willock in a strong bargaining position. That’s after he impressed during a spell on loan last season. However, it’s now understood that the gap is narrowing and an agreement is on the verge of being finalised.
That deal could also result in the departure of another Toon midfielder, with Everton said to be lurking.
Asked about the situation at hispress conference on Thursday, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta provided an update.
“The situation is that he is our player. We had some conversations. It is not only about what we want to do,” Arteta said.
“What he has done is a put himself in a strong position where he can choose what his future could look like. That is what we’re trying to define right now.”
Pressed on whether he thinks Willock will be at Arsenal come the end of the window, Arteta added: “I do not know.”
But with the season’s opener against West Ham on Sunday fast approaching, they are yet to make a single signing. Meanwhile, the likes of Yoshinori Muto and Florian Lejeune have left the club.
Willock arrived at St James’ on a temporary deal at the end of the winter transfer window and he made a stunning impact.
He scored on his debut in a dramatic 3-2 win against Southampton. That game saw Newcastle play the final 18 minutes with nine men.
He then found the back of the net seven times in his last seven appearances to ease their relegation worries.
His exploits understandably won him a place in the affections of Bruce, his team-mates and the Toon Army. Indeed, securing his return has been a top priority.
Bruce though will keep his fingers crossed as the process continues and hope the capture of Willock, who does not appear to have a lengthy list of alternative suitors but could choose to remain at the Emirates Stadium, will belatedly kick-start what was always going to be a difficult summer recruitment drive.
Newcastle in for Liverpool defender
Willock isn’t the only player from a top six club that could be snapped up by Newcastle this summer.
Bruce is also interested in Liverpool centre-back Nathaniel Phillips. The 24-year-old is a favourite of Jurgen Klopp’s following his solid displays last term.
However, he is likely to receive less game time this season due to the £36m signing of Ibrahima Konate. As a result, Newcastle have ‘made contact’ with the Reds over Phillips’ availability.
Premier League rivals Burnley and Southampton will provide competition for his signature, as will German outfit Bayer Leverkusen, perhaps more surprisingly. Liverpool have set their asking price at £12-15m.