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Newcastle transfer news: Joe Willock remains Steve Bruce target as Emile Smith Rowe commits to Arsenal

Joe Willock impressed during Newcastle loan spell last season and Steve Bruce says he will "keep badgering away" to bring 21-year-old back to St James' Park. Newcastle defender Florian Lejeune completes permanent move to Alaves

Joe Willock scored in a fifth successive Premier League game for Newcastle on Friday
Image: Joe Willock is a wanted man in Newcastle

Newcastle United are hopeful Emile Smith Rowe's new contract at Arsenal might accelerate their move for Gunners team-mate Joe Willock.

Newcastle have approached the Gunners over the availability of Willock, with manager Steve Bruce saying he would "keep badgering away" over a player who impressed him last season.

England youth international Smith Rowe committed to a new five-year deal at The Emirates on Thursday and will also take the No 10 shirt formerly worn by Mesut Ozil.

Smith Rowe had been the subject of two failed bids from Aston Villa earlier in the summer and his departure would undoubtedly have made it tougher for Arsenal to part with Willock.

The two players could well have been competing for the same position in Mikel Arteta's first-team plans, with Smith Rowe having taken his chance to shine last season before Willock was sent out on loan to St James' Park.

Joe Willock scored on his debut for Newcastle against Southampton
Image: Joe Willock scored on his debut for Newcastle against Southampton and ended his spell on loan with goals in seven straight games

Smith Rowe made 33 appearances for Arsenal last season and his consistent performances meant Willock was given his own chance to shine in the north-east in January.

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Newcastle manager Steve Bruce says he is prepared to test Arsenal's resolve in the summer transfer window to try and keep loan signing Joe Willock

Willock scored eight times in 14 Premier League appearances under Bruce and set a new record by becoming the youngest player to score in seven consecutive games.

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The seventh of those goals also equalled Alan Shearer's mark for goals in consecutive Premier League games for Newcastle.

AP:  Florian Lejeune (right)
Image: Florian Lejeune (right) was on loan with Alaves last season

Lejeune complets Alaves move

With Bruce keen on calling on Willock, one player who won't be at St James' Park next season is defender Florian Lejeune.

The 30-year-old, who spent last year on loan at Alaves, has completed a permanent move to the Spanish side.

He moves for an undisclosed fee. He had one year left on his contract.

Lejeune was signed by Rafa Benitez five years ago but fell out of favour under Bruce

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