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Celtic could return to raid another Premier League club in the upcoming transfer window as they have identified Arsenal youngster Chris Willock to replace loan signing Patrick Roberts, who will be returning to parent club Manchester City at the end of the season.
The 20-year old Roberts has had a decent season in Scotland and has scored five times in 35 appearances this season. But with his return to the Etihad imminent at the end of the season, Celtic see the Arsenal teenager as the ideal replacement.
According to reports, the Hoops boss Brendan Rodgers is a huge admirer of the 19-year old Willock and believes he can convince the Gunners that a stint in the Scottish Premiership will do a world of good in aiding the youngster’s development.
Let’s have a look at who Chris Willock is and how will he fit in at Celtic Park.
Willock has been with the Arsenal academy since he was a five-year-old and has come through the ranks with serious hard work and toil. Having developed into a fine prospect, he signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2015. His most eye-catching display came in the 3-1 win over Aston Villa in the U-21 Premier League play-off final in the 2015-16 season, where he scored one and assisted two, putting on a masterclass to seal promotion to Division one.
Impressed by his displays, manager Arsene Wenger, handed him is senior team debut in the EFL Cup third round clash against Nottingham Forest back in September 2016, where he came on for the last seven minutes of the tie. Willock also appeared in the subsequent round of the competition for the Gunners, against Reading FC, with his cameo lasting eighteen minutes this time around.
This season, he has been the driving force in Arsenal U-23’s season in the Premier League-2, having scored three goals and assisted 7 from 16 appearances.
Willock is an England youth international since 2013, having represented the Three Lions in all age groups. He represented his country at the 2015 European Under-17 Championship and 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup.
An explosive winger, Willock can play on either flank. Adept with both feet, combined with blistering pace, great passing ability and an eye for a goal, Willock has the perfect recipe for success and stardom.
Playing out wide, the 19-year old has the ability to unlock the defences and can terrorise defenders with his pace and drive on the flanks. His biggest strength is that Willock can beat the full-backs on both the inside and the outside, making it almost impossible to restrict him.
Effective while cutting in from wide areas, he can also cross the ball with amazing accuracy. He possesses amazing technique and ball control and hence Willock has been compared to German attacker Marco Reus by few sections. A great threat on the counter-attack owing to his acceleration and ability to dribble the ball at speed, he plays with a natural flair and exuberance.
His defensive contribution is something that needs to be worked upon, but responsibility and maturity will only come with age and experience.
Celtic are the clear front-runners in the Scottish Premiership this season, having already opened up a whopping 35-point lead over second-placed Aberdeen. Patrick Roberts has been a key component of the squad as well.
However, with the Hoops set to lose him, Willock is expected to be a direct replacement for the Manchester City loanee. He may not be able to break into the playing XI immediately with the likes of Scott Sinclair and James Forrest performing well, but the experience of first team football he will gather Celtic, who play in the Scottish top-flight and possibly, in the Champions League as well, will hold him in good stead for the future.