Arsenal already have the ‘next Aaron Ramsey’ at the club but £20m transfer decision must be made

Arsenal may already have their Aaron Ramsey replacement, but he is going to take some unlocking.

The Gunners have missed Ramsey‘s creative spark sorely since allowing the Welshman to depart for free in 2019, when he moved on to join Juventus.

Emile Smith Rowe bursting onto the scene has helped, so too the loan signing of Martin Odegaard, but Arsenal still often lack that something special in the final third of the pitch, something that was painfully highlighted in the goalless draw in the Europa League semi-final second leg with Villarreal.

But perhaps the answer is closer than Mikel Arteta realises.

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Joe Willock was sent out on loan with Newcastle United in January, and he has not looked back, scoring five times in the Premier League, adding to the three goals and three assists he managed for Arsenal in the Europa League.

And Willock was once told to seize the opportunity left behind by the likes of Ramsey and Jack Wilshere by former boss Unai Emery.

“He deserved to start this season with the first team and with us,” Emery said in 2019.

“My decision was after I saw him the last two months of last season working with us, his really big challenge was that Jack Wilshere left here, Aaron Ramsey left and he had to take that opportunity to be with us.

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“The last months of last year was the moment I spoke with him, and said: ‘For you it is a big challenge in the new season to do differently and really show us you can take their position in this squad’.”

He added: “We need to have different options in different positions in midfield. But Willock is really, really improving a lot – sometimes by being in the starting XI or off the bench with good impact.

“I told him he is improving but he needs to not stop that improvement, we are working with him to improve even more.

“But, if his progression keeps going the way it is going right now, I don’t know when he will stop and how far he can go.”

Can Willock yet fulfil that prophecy? The bigger question is whether he will even get a chance to attempt it with uncertainty surrounding his future at Arsenal, despite impressing during his loan at Newcastle.

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