Rio Ferdinand questions Arsenal’s decision to let Joe Willock leave on loan in January

Arsenal loanee Joe Willock celebrates scoring for Newcastle against Liverpool in the Premier League
Arsenal’s Joe Willock has scored four goals in 10 games for Newcastle (Picture: Getty)

Rio Ferdinand has been impressed by the ‘personality’ and ‘temperament’ Joe Willock has shown on loan at Newcastle and suggests Arsenal should have kept hold of the midfielder for the second half of the season.

Hale End academy product Willock, 21, has shown glimpses of his undoubted quality since breaking into Arsenal’s first-team back in 2017 but actively pushed for a temporary move out of the Emirates to boost his minutes in first-team football.

Newcastle were quickly alerted to a potential deal, landing Willock towards the end of the January transfer window, and the England Under-21 international has hit the ground running with a string of important late goals to help keep Steve Bruce’s side away from the relegation zone.

Willock’s last-gasp equaliser at Liverpool was his third goal in as many games after coming off the substitutes bench and Bruce has already confirmed he would be keen to keep hold of the youngster beyond the summer when his loan contract expires.

Liverpool v Newcastle United - Premier League
Bruce hopes to keep Willock at Newcastle beyond the summer (Picture Getty)

Reflecting on the midfielder’s eye-catching loan spell in the northeast, ex-Manchester United and England centre-back Ferdinand told his Rio Ferdinand Presents FIVE YouTube channel: ‘You know what, I like Joe Willock.

‘He’s someone at Arsenal that I would have kept. He’s a good young player.

‘If Arsenal don’t take him back and have him around that squad… I don’t know, man.

‘I really like him and I like his personality. He’s not shy to come on the big stage and play and perform.

‘And the last three goals he’s scored have been massive goals for Newcastle. It shows he’s got the temperament.’

Arsenal last shot at securing Champions League football next season rests on them winning this year’s Europa League.

But the Gunners head into Thursday’s semi-final first leg on the back of two poor Premier League performances at home to Fulham and Everton – and Ferdinand feels Villarreal will come out on top, with Manchester United going on to win the competition.

‘I think Arsenal go out, man,’ he added.

‘United win the Europa League, I’m saying it here now.’

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