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Joe Willock aims dig at Mikel Arteta and admits Arsenal exit ‘hurt’
Posted by  badge Boss on May 13, 2023 - 02:47AM
Joe Willock has gone from strength to strength since signing permanently for Newcastle (Picture: Getty)

Joe Willock has taken a swipe at Mikel Arteta, claiming he simply wasn’t valued at Arsenal and the nature of his departure ‘hurt’.

The Hale End Academy graduate featured prominently during the early months of the Spaniard’s reign, but after giving Willock only fleeting opportunities to impress during his first full season at the helm, Arteta decided to send the 23-year-old on loan to Newcastle.

The talented midfielder impressed on Tyneside under Steve Bruce, embarking on a record-breaking run of goalscoring form which helped keep the Magpies in the .

Willock was presented with a major quandary during the summer of 2021 but eventually opted to join Newcastle permanently having felt he was unlikely to be given a fair crack of the whip at Arsenal.

He told : ‘We had loads of conversations on the phone that summer.

‘I wasn’t valued at Arsenal, that became clear. When I had a meeting with them, it was obvious they wanted me to go. Yeah, it hurt.

‘I would probably have drifted for another year had I stayed. I’d been there since I was four-and-a-half years old. I’d given my life to Arsenal.

Joe Willock broke through at Arsenal under Mikel Arteta but was sold to Newcastle for £25million (Picture: Getty)

‘At that meeting it just felt like my time was up. I didn’t feel valued anymore and that was it, I was going to sign for Newcastle after that.’

A more patient approach may well have seen him prosper at his boyhood club given the breakthroughs made by the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Eddie Nketiah over the course of the last 12 months.

Willock, however, harbours few regrets and ultimately believes he made the right decision with the appointment of Eddie Howe providing a further boost to his career and Champions League chasing Newcastle.

‘This season has been a hell of a ride,’ Willock added. ‘We’ve got to a cup final and we are third in the league, but you ask any of the players, we don’t feel like we have achieved anything yet.

‘We have come a long way from fighting relegation to third in the league, which is a credit to the whole club, from the owners, to the manager to the coaches. It’s down to everybody.

‘But we think this is the start of our journey. Things are going to get better and better. I’m so happy here, I love playing football for this club and I’m going to get better too. I can still take my game to another level.’

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