Joe Willock poised to join Newcastle after wage agreement

Club have agreed a fee with Arsenal of £22 million for their top summer target

Joe Willock in action for Arsenal during a friendly. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Joe Willock in action for Arsenal during a friendly. Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images

 

Newcastle are on the verge of signing Joe Willock from Arsenal after a breakthrough in discussing personal terms with the player, who could arrive in time to face West Ham on Sunday.

The clubs agreed a fee of £22m (€26m) for Willock, who scored eight goals in a highly successful loan at St James’ Park last season, over the weekend but doubts arose about Newcastle’s ability to get the deal over the line.

Willock returned to Arsenal’s training ground this week after talks surrounding wages and representation fees faltered but Newcastle, whose side of the negotiations was led by the managing director Lee Charnley, put an acceptable offer to the player’s camp on Thursday and he will undergo a medical on Friday.

Assuming the deal is rubber-stamped, Newcastle will land their top summer target and Mikel Arteta’s resources will receive a welcome boost at a frustrating point in the transfer window for Arsenal. Their attempt to sign the Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale has stalled after the clubs were unable to agree on a valuation, meaning Arteta must explore other avenues.

Arteta had been keen to sign Ramsdale, the Blades’ player of the season upon their relegation from the top flight in 2020-21, as competition for Bernd Leno and had two bids turned down in the summer. United want £30m (€35m) plus add-ons for the 23-year-old and talks have failed to bring a compromise.

It means Arsenal will begin their Premier League campaign at Brentford on Friday with only their third choice last season, Alex Rúnarsson, and the 19-year-old academy product Arthur Okonkwo as backup to Leno. Asked whether a new goalkeeper was close to arriving, Arteta said: “I cannot tell you, I have no answers to that.”

Arsenal have spent about £75m (€88m) on Ben White, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga but require further reinforcements, particularly in attack. There is interest in the Leicester playmaker James Maddison but a deal would be complicated and expensive; the former loanee Martin Ødegaard’s situation at Real Madrid remains under firm scrutiny, too. Arteta accepted there was work to do before the transfer window closes on August 31st.

“We are talking about probably the most difficult transfer market in this industry over the last year for sure and we are trying to adapt,” he said. “The club, the owners and myself, we all have the same interests, which is to make this team much stronger and we know that we still have things to do to get what we want.

“Things take time, and all the time there are different parties and different interests there to get deals done.”

Arteta expects a frantic final two and a half weeks of the window. “You can see that things have started to move at a different speed in the last week or so … Probably a lot of things will happen in the last week or so,” he said.

Thomas Partey will miss the trip to promoted Brentford, having not recovered from the injury to his right ankle ligaments sustained in a friendly against Chelsea. He is likely to return at the end of the month but it means Lokonga, the arrival from Anderlecht, may be given a chance in midfield alongside Granit Xhaka. Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Magalhães miss out with ankle and knee injuries respectively. – Guardian

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