Chris Willock made a brave decision rejecting a new deal at Arsenal to further his football education in Lisbon.
The England youth star swapped North London for Benfica in the summer in a rare example of a homegrown player trying his hand abroad. So far, however, Willock still seems some way away from challenging for a first-team place at the reigning Primeira Liga champions.
Willock’s first few months in Portugal have seen him stuck in the B team. And according to The Mirror (29th December, 11.14am) the likes of Leeds and Newcastle United were keen to offer the winger a short-term return to England to get some much-needed senior football under his belt.
A technically gifted and dynamic left-sider who is blessed with an eye for goal, Willock would surely have had a good chance of forcing his way into Leeds’ side had he moved to Elland Road on loan in January.
After all, Ezgjan Alioski, Pablo Hernandez and Kemar Roofe have all endured indifferent starts to 2018 and the first two in particular could benefit from some time out. Willock, then, would have been a fine player to bring in.
And the 20-year-old might have featured relatively regularly at Newcastle too. After all, it is perhaps unlikely that Rafa Benitez would have brought in Chelsea’s Brazilian winger Kenedy had Willock arrived at St James’ Park earlier in the transfer window.
Christian Atsu has also been in and out of the Newcastle side so Willock could have added some pace and incision on the flanks for a side who have scored less than a goal a game.