The 21-year-old midfielder has been with Steve Bruce’s side since January, netting some pivotal goals in their fight against relegation from the Premier League.
Willock notched a debut opener in the 3-2 win over Southampton in February and later proceeded to score in three successive matches with a late equaliser off the bench against Arsenal’s arch-rivals Tottenham, a key winner in a brief cameo versus West Ham and then a last-gasp leveller in the draw with Liverpool at Anfield.
The Gunners academy graduate’s fine sequence of form against Champions League-chasing teams – which has led some to jokingly label him as Chelsea’s best signing of the season – continued against third-place Leicester on Friday night.
Willock seized on an error from Foxes centre-back Caglar Soyuncu after only 21 minutes at the King Power Stadium before bursting into the penalty area and impressively holding off the Turkish international to fire beyond goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and into the bottom corner.
Per Opta Sports, Willock is the first Newcastle player to score in four consecutive matches since striker Papiss Cisse did so back in 2012.
Such exploits obviously have not escaped the attentions of Arsenal fans, who praised Willock’s achievements but also lamented his absence as Mikel Arteta’s ninth-place side face up to the prospect of no European football next season following their Europa League semi-final defeat by Villarreal.
Addressing Willock’s future at Arsenal earlier this week, Arteta – who insisted he was not suprised by the youngster’s impressive form – said: “He has a chance. 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.”
Meanwhile, Newcastle counterpart Bruce has made no secret of his desire to secure a return to Tyneside for Willock next season, though funds for new signings are set to be tight at St James’ Park over the summer.
“I think Joe’s thoroughly enjoying it here,” Bruce said recently.
“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.”