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Arteta opens door to Willock’s return

Mikel Arteta is ready to give Joe Willock another opportunity to impress at Arsenal next season.

The midfielder found game time hard to come by at the Emirates Stadium in the first half of the campaign.

He has since emerged as a key player for Newcastle after moving to the northeast of England in the January transfer window.

Willock is only on loan at St James’ Park but Steve Bruce’s side are keen to land him on a permanent deal this summer.

However, Arteta appears to have ruled out Willock leaving north London at the end of the season.

“He has a chance,” the Spaniard said when asked if the 21-year-old could be more involved with the Gunners next term.

“He has a chance,” Arteta replied when asked if Willock will be given an opportunity to prove himself back at Arsenal.

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“He is a player we really like so at the end of the season he will come back here and then we will make the decision again for what is best to move forward.”

Arsenal are currently working on a deal to tie Willock’s fellow academy product, Emile Smith Rowe, down to a new contract.

The attacking midfielder’s current deal runs until 2023 but Arsenal are keen to offer him an extension.

“We are going to have that discussion,” Arteta told Sky Sports when asked whether he wanted Smith Rowe to put pen to paper.

“I think Emile has earned the right to look at that situation because of the performances that he has produced.

“He’s very much engaged and wants to continue with us, that’s for sure.”

With Arsenal currently in the bottom half of the Premier League, Arteta agreed with the interviewer’s suggestion that this summer will be one of the club’s most important transfer windows in recent years.

“Yes, because a lot of things have happened in the last few transfer windows,” he added.

“There are a lot of players in various situations. It’s crucial. We want to go to the next level and there are a lot of things we need to do to get there.”

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