Chelsea duo are not just backup transfer options for Newcastle as they wait on Willock decision from Arsenal

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Newcastle are not viewing Chelsea stars Conor Gallagher and Ross Barkley solely as backup transfer options to Arsenal star Joe Willock, according to the Athletic (subscription required).

The Athletic report that Steve Bruce wants to bolster the Magpies’ squad with at least two midfield signings this summer, with one ideally being Willock and the other a more defensive-minded player.

Willock became a Tyneside hero in his six-month spell with Newcastle in the second-half of last season, scoring eight goals – seven of which coming in his last seven appearances for the club.

The Athletic suggest that a permanent deal for Willock may ‘prove beyond’ the capabilities of Newcastle, as they wait for Mikel Arteta to decide whether the 21-year-old can depart for the new season.

Bruce reiterated after the Magpies’ pre-season friendly against Doncaster that Willock’s future rests firmly on Arsenal, insisting they’ll keep ‘bashing away’ but admitting that a ‘cut-off’ point will come. 

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Joe Willock looks to be the prime midfield target for Newcastle, but that all depends on Arsenal.

Considering that Willock is the energetic midfielder that Newcastle are looking to play a role in their attack, like he did last season, perhaps Gallagher would be a more realistic second addition than Barkley.

Barkley is a playmaker, mostly featuring for a No.10 during his loan spell at Aston Villa last season, though he can still make an impact in a more traditional and deeper-lying midfield role.

Gallagher on the other hand spent last season in a defensive-midfield/box-to-box role in his temporary spell with West Brom, so he could perfectly fit what Newcastle are looking for in midfield.

Whether the Magpies could stretch to complete loan deals for two 21-year-old starlets like Gallagher and Willock remains to be seen, but they be exciting additions to Bruce’s preferred midfield three.

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