Joe Willock is Aaron Ramsey’s First True Successor

Arsenal, Joe Willock (Photo by Mike Egerton/Pool via Getty Images)
Arsenal, Joe Willock (Photo by Mike Egerton/Pool via Getty Images) /

There’s nothing worse than Arsenal fans calling a player “The Next So-and-So.”

Frankly, it applies way too much pressure on the shoulders of the footballer in question – Arsenal or otherwise – and often serves to buttonhole them into a role they wouldn’t otherwise be occupying. People see it as a ceiling, a point to aim for, but it’s more like a prison.

Instead of calling a player “the next so-and-so,” I’m far more inclined to have them become the first of their name. And there aren’t many players I want that for more than Joe Willock. Lucky for me, that doesn’t seem to be much of an obstacle for the young Englishman.

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Now before this article gets too confusing, let me explain. I don’t want to call Joe Willock the next Aaron Ramsey. He’s just the first player I’ve seen in quite a while that can bring everything the Welshman did to the side.

Ramsey was an engine room, a creative playmaker and a goalscorer all wrapped into one. Although injuries marred his career, and he’s cooling his heels somewhat at Juventus, the Welshman was absolute dynamite for Arsenal on his day.

Willock, in many ways, is a similar player. He makes the same explosive runs into the box, has a relatable, unique vision of the field around him, and has a knack for finding the same key spaces where he can operate on the half-turn. He’s also got the same leggy stride, which allows him to cover deceptively large amounts of ground. He’s got the energy too, and is slowly evolving into a serious force.

But that’s where the comparison ends. Willock is a sly player, who twists, turns, and wriggles his way out of tight spots. He’s not as powerful as Ramsey, but is quicker off the mark, and far more versatile, able to play across the midfield and attack.

His ball-striking technique is flawless, and while his passing range is shorter than the former Cardiff man, his curled shots from distance rarely miss their target. He’s a finesse player with the physical capability of a non-stop, all-action midfielder.

Now that’s not to say he’s got it all at once. He still lacks consistency, and needs to work on his ball security, but he’s only 21, and still has plenty of room to grow. Hence why I’m hesitant to call him the next Ramsey. Because he’s the first player who can fill those boots, and he arguably has even more to offer.

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He’s offered so much creativity in our Europa League campaign, tallying two goals and an assist in three games. A Premier League chance is next on the docket, simply because he just offers something different, something exciting. It’s not all perfect, but Willock is so, so good. He deserves the chance to prove it.