Newcastle United correspondent Chris Waugh has revealed that Allan Saint-Maximin was ‘desperate’ for Joe Willock to return to Newcastle.
Willock has now sealed his permanent switch from Arsenal and will be available for the trip to Aston Villa next weekend (via nufc.co.uk).
The 21-year-old has inked a six-year contract and joins for a fee in excess of £20million (via BBC Sport).
During his loan spell last season, he was instrumental in the Magpies’ late surge up the table. He scored in their final seven matches as they climbed from the brink of the relegation zone to 12th place.
Waugh reports that a number of Newcastle players had kept in contact with Willock, and that Saint Maximin was ‘especially’ keen for him to extend his stay at St James’ Park.
The Frenchman’s public plea – he said Willock ‘can be really great for the team and me’ – was interpreted as ‘a clear indication’ that he’d be more inclined to stay if he was playing alongside the former Arsenal man. Intriguingly, Waugh says he wasn’t alone in that sentiment.
The dressing room has been left ‘relieved and enthused’ by the news, though there is still a feeling that further signings are needed.
Willock and Saint-Maximin may have an excellent relationship, but it’s probably less about personnel than it is ambition. A player of the Frenchman’s quality needs to feel like he’s battling for more than just pure survival.
Turning the loan into a permanent signing will be regarded as the bare minimum for Newcastle in this year’s market, but it should help them steer clear of any relegation bother.
Get a couple more quality additions through the door in the remaining weeks of the window, albeit on loan, and an assault on the top half may not be out of the question.
For now though, the news that Saint-Maximin may be more inclined to stay thanks to Willock’s arrival is surely the cherry on top of the excitement around the signing.
In other news, could this be Newcastle’s next signing?
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