By 90Min
August 07, 2019

After seriously impressing against them in pre-season, Joe Willock has emerged as a potential transfer target for Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich. 

The Arsenal youngster is a classy central midfielder, who has made the most of Mohamed Elneny, Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira's absence from much of the Gunners' pre-season preparations - playing a starring role in recent games.

Despite Bayern's interest, it appears Unai Emery is planning to utilise Willock this season - as evidenced by his receipt of the number 28 shirt for the upcoming campaign.

But how much do we actually know about the young star? Well, if it's not much, here's five things you should now about one of the Gunners' most exciting youth academy graduates in years.


He Comes From a Footballing Family

Joe is the youngest of three brothers, with Chris and Matty Willock, two and three years his senior respectively. All three of the siblings are talented footballers but the trio have taken strikingly different paths in the game so far.

Chris came through the Gunners' youth academy like Joe, but at the age of 19, made the bold decision to sign with Benfica on a five-year-deal. Since arriving in Lisbon in 2017, Chris has appeared 64 times for the Portuguese side's B team, but is yet to make a senior appearance for the Eagles.

Eldest brother Matty on the other hand, has recently signed for League One club Gillingham. Matty was released from Arsenal as a 15 year-old, before being picked up by Manchester United. Whilst at Old Trafford, Willock enjoyed loan spells at a host of clubs such as FC Utrecht, St Johnstone, St Mirren and Crawley Town before finally being released by the Red Devils this season. 

It was while Matty was plying his trade in Manchester, that all three brothers shared the pitch in an Under-23s game at the Emirates Stadium in 2017. The game ended in a 2-2 draw, probably the best result for the rest of their family's sake.


He's An England International

Octavio Passos/GettyImages

Willock has been involved in the England set up since 2014, when he made his debut for the Under-16s side. Since then he's gone on to represent his country at a number of more advanced age groups.

Willock played six times for the Under-19s between 2017 and 2018, sharing the pitch on many occasions with the likes of Mason Mount, Eddie Nketiah and Marcus McGuane. 

He then moved up to the Under-20s side in June 2018. So far, Willock has made seven appearances and scored four goals in his most impressive international stint to date.


He's Got An Eye For Goal

David Ramos/GettyImages

Despite making only six first team appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, Willock has still managed to bag three goals.

His first goal for the club came against Vorskla Poltava in this season's Europa League. A hopeful ball forward from Matteo Guendouzi was picked up by Willock on the edge of the area. He then opened up his body and guided it past the Vorskla goalkeeper into the bottom corner. 

Willock added to his Arsenal goal tally in January, scoring a brace against Blackpool in the FA Cup. Both goals displayed Willock's predatory instincts in front of goal.


He Made A Cameo in the Europa League Final

Dan Mullan/GettyImages

Although you may have forgotten, Willock actually made a 15-minute cameo in Arsenal's 4-1 defeat to London rivals Chelsea in the 2019 Europa League final. 

Replacing the misfiring Mesut Ozil on 77 minutes, Willock was lively and was involved in a number of attacks during the closing stages of the game. 

His performances earned rave reviews on social media, and was a solitary highlight in an otherwise miserable day for Gunners fans. Expect Willock to be featuring a lot more in the competition during the coming campaign. 


He's Had to Overcome Health Issues

Though you wouldn't be able to tell by his recent form, Willock's career as footballer was almost over before it began. 


Born with a condition that meant his legs were not the same length, the 19-year-old has spoken about the physical and mental difficulties that this gave him.

In an interview with the Sun, Willock stated: "When I was younger, one of my legs was longer than the other... I didn’t tell anyone at the time, I just tried to get on with playing football and training as much as I could."

Unfortunately though, his condition caused a number of problems. "Everything got harder. Having one leg longer than the other was affecting my running and my technical ability. I couldn’t play football in the way that I’d done my whole life, and it was the most frustrating thing I’d ever experienced."

Fortunately, the problem has now been rectified and Gunners fans should look forward to what could be a breakout season for Willock in 2019/20


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