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Matt Ritchie claims Arsenal loanee Joe Willock proved doubters wrong at Newcastle United

Matt Ritchie has claimed – via Chronicle Live – that Arsenal midfielder Joe Willock proved his doubters wrong while on loan at Newcastle United.

Willock moved to St. James’ Park in a last-ditch Deadline Day deal in February after playing a bit-part role under Mikel Arteta. The England U21 international only started two of his seven Premier League appearances at Arsenal this season.

Steve Bruce gleefully took the opportunity to unleash Willock at Newcastle and reaped the rewards, as his goals directly returned eight points. He found the back of the net eight times all told, including in each of his final seven outings for the Toon.

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Bruce now hopes to strike a deal with Arsenal to sign Willock permanently but Newcastle face a £20million asking price. Ritchie would also like to see the 21-year-old return to the North East, yet acknowledges a transfer is out of United’s control.

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“Of course, but it’s not down to us. It’s down to Willy and Arsenal. Who knows?” Ritchie said. “His luck is certainly in, but he’s been fantastic as everyone knows.

“It’s been well-documented, the impact he’s had since he’s joined. I’m delighted for him because to come on loan somewhere is a challenge. There’s obviously questions being asked, and he’s answered all of those.”

TBR’s view: Willock deserves his Arsenal chance

Two of the biggest question marks over Willock before he joined Newcastle on loan was if he can make a difference and establish himself in a first-team squad. He has certainly proven that he can in both respects at St. James’ Park after finding another gear.

Willock now deserves a chance to prove himself with a prominent role at Arsenal, having comfortably coped with the pressure of a relegation battle to suggest he can cope with the pressure of helping to restore the Gunners to being a European side.

Arsenal will not have to rely solely on Willock delivering to achieve their goals next season, but he has shown he can add goals and energy to the engine room. He can also offer Arteta a player to link well with Thomas Partey, who needs someone like Willock next to him to be at his best.

Arteta will likely have to lay out some guarantees that those chances to feature will be forthcoming to convince Willock to stay, as a return to Newcastle will clearly be something that appeals to the youngster having built budding relationships at St. James’ Park.

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