Unai Emery says he’s very pleased with Joe Willock’s development in the last 12 months and urged the 19-year-old to keep working hard ahead of the new season.
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 given a new squad number.
Part of the squad touring the US, the England under-20 international put in an eye-catching performance in the centre of midfield against Bayern Munich on Wednesday night and will be hoping for more game time against Fiorentina and Real Madrid.
He must know that with Aaron Ramsey departing and Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Alex Iwobi yet to start pre-season training, that a starting berth is up for grabs when the new season starts in three weeks time.
In an interview with Arsenal.com, Emery touched on Willock’s improvement.
“It’s all progress with him because last year he started with us in the pre-season,” he said.
“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, with [Juan Carlos] Carcedo, with me.
“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.”