Arsenal's Mesut Ozil says Joe Willock will be a 'big player'
By Tommaso Fiore
Last Updated: 19/07/19 5:42pm
Arsenal star Mesut Ozil has tipped young midfielder Joe Willock to be a "big player" and expects him to make a major first team impact this season.
Willock, a product of Arsenal's youth academy, impressed in cup competitions last season, scoring in the Europa League and FA Cup, and starting his first Premier League game on the final day of the campaign in a 3-1 win at Burnley.
The 19-year-old gave a good account of himself during the Gunners' 2-1 win over Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup, and Ozil said his exploits in the United States are not a surprise to him.
"He knows what he can do, so he is not arrogant on the pitch but he believes in himself," Ozil told the club's website. "Especially yesterday against Bayern Munich, against a big club, he shows his quality. We are happy to have him.
"He was strong last year as well. So of course, if you really work with the first team together always, you feel more comfortable and you believe in yourself more. I think this season, especially in the pre-season he shows his quality and I think he can help us this season.
"At the end of the day, those young players have quality. They show it every day in the training. If they stay healthy and believe in themselves, so I think he will be a big player."
In conversation with Sky Sports in March, Arsenal boss Unai Emery hinted that a replacement for Juventus-bound Aaron Ramsey could come from within.
After featuring 17 times for the Gunners over the last two season, the England Under-20 international was recently promoted to the first team and handed the No 28 jersey.
With competition coming from Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi, who are yet to start pre-season training, Willock is in contention to be picked by Emery for a starting place in their Premier League season opener at Newcastle in just over three weeks' time.
"It's all progress with him because last year he started with us in the pre-season," Emery told the club's website. "His performance today is very different to last year, maybe because he knows our idea and spirit better.
"He's got a very big motivation and a very big ambition individually to make good performances, and he listens a lot to our idea. We are speaking a lot to him individually.
"I really, really think that he made one more step last year during the season and he finished it very well with us, playing 12 minutes in the final against Chelsea with a big performance. We now want him to take another step more in his capacity to be with us, with a big help in our performance and our idea."