Why Arsenal should refrain from sending Joe Willock out on loan

As reported by Football.london, former Manchester United and Bayern Munich player Owen Hargreaves has urged Arsenal youngster Joe Willock to go out on loan. He believes that with Willock’s current form, he should head out on loan for a season or two to get more game time.

With Willock not featuring in any league game so far but putting up strong showings in the Europa League, the pundit pointed to the fact how reputed players like Toni Kroos, Phillip Lahm and David Alaba were sent on loan before they became world-class players. (h/t Football.london)

Profile

Joe Willock is a 21-year-old English midfielder who plays for Arsenal. A product of the Gunners’ youth academy, he joined the club in 2004. After spending over a decade in the youth setup, he was promoted to the U-18’s in 2015.

In 27 games for the side, he scored 8 goals and assisted 10 more. Within 2 seasons, he was promoted to the U-23’s. While he was a part of that side, he was often called up to the senior side. Under Arsene Wenger, he made his debut against Doncaster Rovers in September 2017. He went on to feature 11 times for the senior side that season which included two games in the Premier League.

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Joe Willock is a product of the Arsenal youth academy (Getty Images)

While he did not feature much in the following season, he became a regular in the senior squad from 2019 onwards. He was a regular in the Europa League and League Cup games. Not only that, he was afforded 29 league games last season.

So far, he has made 67 appearances for the Gunners, scoring 10 goals and assisting three (h/t Transfermarkt). Willock is currently a part of the England U-21’s with 4 caps to his name.

Willock should stay back at Arsenal under Arteta

Under normal circumstances, sending Willock out on loan would be a straightforward decision. However, with a handful of midfielders in the squad, Willock’s importance has increased. The club only has Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Dani Ceballos and Granit Xhaka as central midfielders. Ceballos is on loan while Xhaka has been used as a centre-back occasionally.

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Willock has been impressing in the Europa League this season (Getty Images)

Willock has been one of their best performers whenever he has been given the chance. He has been given starts in the Europa League and EFL Cup where he has contributed to 4 goals (2 goals, 2 assists).

It is rather puzzling as to how he has not been given a chance in the league. Yes, Elneny and Partey have been rather good but with Willock’s ability to influence the game in the final third, he should be thrown some chances.

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Verdict

More than the issue of Arsenal having less number of midfielders, it is due to Willock’s quality and potential that he should be kept at the club. A loan option is a rather unsure move because he may or may not get adequate game time.

At Arsenal under Arteta, he can develop well. It’s not as if he isn’t getting game time and with his improving performances in Europe, it does not look he will have to wait for long before he gets his chances in the Premier League. For now, the club should look to keep him at the club and give him some more chances instead of sending him out on loan.

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