Arsenal must not repeat £25m mistake that infuriated Martin Keown again this summer
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Joe Willock's impressive form must serve as a warning to Arsenal over selling to Newcastle United this summer.
The Gunners have led the way since the opening weekend, though a lapse in concentration has seen City close the gap to within striking distance of the north London side.
But regardless of whether Arsenal can get over the line, they have plenty of reason to be excited for the future.
However, they aren't the only surprise act this season, with Newcastle enjoying an equally successful campaign.
Eddie Howe's side currently sit third in the league standings, as they spy a top four finish for the first time in over 20 years.
Indeed, the club's upward trajectory would suggest that Arsenal must now consider them a direct rival, and therefore should think twice about selling to the Tyneside club.
Arsenal must learn from Willock
Willock graduated through Arsenal's famous Hale End academy, but struggled to nail down a starting role in the first team.
The 23-year-old opted to move to Newcastle instead, joining in the summer of 2021 for a fee of £25 million following a successful six-month loan spell at St James' Park.
He has since become an integral part of the Magpies' midfield, chipping in with three goals and six assists in the league this term.
The Englishman's quality was on display for all to see during Newcastle's 6-1 demolition of Tottenham last weekend, when he produced a sumptuous, defence-splitting pass to set up Aleksander Isaak.
However, former Arsenal defender and three-time Premier League champion Martin Keown was insistent that Arsenal should have never let him go in the first place.
Speaking after Willock's departure in August 2021, Keown told talkSPORT: "I’m disappointed, as an Arsenal man and I’m sure the academy is.
"He hasn’t been given the opportunity when he’s come back [from Newcastle]. Arteta’s made a very clear decision that he doesn’t feel he’s good enough for Arsenal.
"He’s going to be used as collateral to buy a new player, but I think Joe Willock could’ve played in a different position, maybe a deep-lying playmaker."
While the addition of Willock could have helped ease the pressure on players, he could have also saved them valuable money in the transfer market.
In the meantime, Newcastle are allegedly plotting a summer swoop for another Arsenal player in the shape of Kieran Tierney.
Multiple reports have detailed Newcastle's interest in the Scotsman, who was labelled "phenomenal" by Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson. While Howe is thought to be a fond admirer of the 25-year-old left-back.
Tierney has been forced to play second fiddle to Oleksandr Zinchenko this season, and is said to favour first team football above all else.
However, the Gunners may now think twice about offloading him to Newcastle, knowing that they could be in direct competition next season.
Comparatively, the summer arrivals of Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City have helped transform Arsenal into genuine title contenders.
One could argue that the acquisition of the pair has been a defining reason behind Arsenal's ability to compete with Pep Guardiola's side.
Therefore, wherever Tierney's next destination may be, Arteta must be savvy in negotiations.
Newcastle and Arsenal are due to play on Sunday May 7 at St James' Park in a fascinating contest.
The reverse fixture was a goalless, but tense affair at the Emirates, with Arteta coming under fire for his touchline antics.
One would expect further drama this time out, and the beginning of what could be a long-term rivalry.