‘A big future’: Steve Bruce keen to sign Joe Willock permanently at Newcastle

Steve Bruce would “love” to re-sign Joe Willock next season and start rebuilding Newcastle United around the midfielder. The 21-year-old Arsenal loanee has impressed since arriving at St James’ Park in January, scoring three vital goals, with the most recent arriving after he stepped off the bench and headed a late winner in last Saturday’s 3-2 home win against West Ham.

“I think Joe’s thoroughly enjoying it here,” said Newcastle’s manager, who would hope to sign Willock for around £20m, and believes there is a deal to be done with Arsenal. “There’s a lot of conversations to be had but why wouldn’t we want to sign him? He’s 21, he’s young, fit, athletic, he can score a goal and he’s got wonderful pace. Arguably Joe is as quick as anyone at this club.”

Willock – who could start against Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday – also seems to be relishing his surroundings in the north-east and appreciates living within a short drive of Northumberland’s sandy beaches.

“It was quite refreshing yesterday to hear Joe talking about driving out to the coast and seeing the sea,” said Bruce. “Living in London, I don’t think he gets to see the sea that often … And I certainly think he enjoyed the adulation of scoring the winner against West Ham last week.

“He’s got a big future. He’s the right type, the right profile – you’d love to build a team around a young player like Joe. If there’s a chance to bring him here next season, I’d love to get it done.”