Newcastle manager Steve Bruce finally seals deal for Joe Willock

Magpies set to complete transfer, worth around £22m, for Arsenal midfielder

File photo dated 14-05-2021 of Newcastle United's Joe Willock. Issue date: Monday May 24, 2021. PA Photo. Joe Willock admitted he did not want the season to end after becoming only the second player after Alan Shearer to score in seven consecutive Premier League games for Newcastle. See PA story SOCCER Fulham. Photo credit should read Stu Forster/PA Wire.
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Newcastle United manager Steve Bruce revealed on Friday that Joe Willock is set to join the club on six-year contract.

The Arsenal midfielder enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell at St James' Park last season when he scored eight goals — including a record-breaking seven games in a row — to help Newcastle stave off the threat of relegation.

Bruce had endured a frustrating wait over the summer as he waited for the Gunners to make a call on the 21-year-old's future. And even when a fee of around £22 million ($30.4m) was agreed earlier in the week, there was a hold up over the player's wage demands.

There has also been the shadow of the failed £300m Saudi Arabian takeover of the club which has seen owner Mike Ashley embark on a bitter legal battle with the Premier League over the deal's collapse.

The uncertainty has meant Bruce has been unable to sign a single player over the summer meaning a sense of growing frustration was sweeping across Tyneside before the new season.

But finally, there appears to be some good news for manager and fans with the arrival of Willock. “He’s here, he’s completed his medical,” Bruce said.

“There are still a few bits and pieces to be done on that front as we speak now, so we expect him to train this morning.

“We have to make sure the results of the medical are fine, but so far — touch wood — everything has gone to plan.

“I knew [Arsenal manager] Mikel Arteta would want to look at him in pre-season so we knew we'd have to be patient.

“We explored the loan option, but when that couldn't happen we knew we had to buy him. To be fair to my bosses they always said if Joe became available we'd try to buy him.

“Where else would you sign a 21-year-old who scored seven goals on the trot?

“Over the last few years we’ve broken every rule Newcastle have had in terms of going about transfers, but we’ve made it possible and for everybody concerned, a big thank you.”

It remains to be seen whether Willock will be registered in time — or is even fit enough — to start the Magpies' first game of the new season against West Ham United on Sunday.

“We want to see where he is and where he's up to. It's been a hectic few days. We have to get him registered by 12pm and we hope we can play him against West Ham.

“Let's not forget we have him for six years now which is great.”

When asked if there were any more irons in the fire in terms of new faces, Bruce added: “I think it's fair to say the club has gone beyond what I thought they could already.

“We have a full quota of 25 players. But there's still a lot to play out in the window and we've one or two things bubbling away.”

Newcastle finished 12th last season after looking in desperate trouble midway through the campaign only to produce a fine run at the end to secure their top-flight status.

“The big thing for us is to try to improve on last year,” Bruce added. “We had a good start and a good finish, but an awful winter time.

“We need to be lucky with injuries and certainly with Joe in team we looked a threat and to score those goals he gave us something different and he improves us. Little by little we try to improve.”

Updated: August 13, 2021, 10:59 AM