NEWCASTLE UNITED’s hopes of signing Joe Willock this summer will be heavily impacted by Aston Villa’s ongoing attempts to prise midfielder Emile Smith-Rowe from the Emirates.

Arsenal rejected Villa’s initial £25m offer for Smith-Rowe last week, but that is not expected to be the end of Dean Smith’s interest in the 20-year-old.

With Smith-Rowe’s current Arsenal deal not really reflecting the youngster’s rise to prominence, and with the hierarchy at the Emirates having been so far unable to agree a new contract with his representatives, Villa feel they have a decent chance of securing the midfielder’s services this summer.

Mikel Arteta does not want to lose Smith-Rowe, but the decision could be taken out of his hands if contract talks continue to stall and the Arsenal board opt to cash in on their academy product.

If Smith-Rowe was to move to Villa Park, his departure would leave a gap in Arteta’s midfield ranks and make it much less likely that the Gunners would also sanction the sale of Willock.

While Willock made a major impression during last season’s loan deal at St James’ Park, Arteta is understood to regard Smith-Rowe as a more likely first-team starter for Arsenal next season.

However, if Smith-Rowe leaves, Willock will find himself shuffled up the pecking order and Newcastle would find it much more difficult to persuade Arsenal officials to sell the England Under-21 international.

Even without the Smith-Rowe situation complicating things, Magpies officials are still to agree a fee for Willock, whose stock rose considerably as he scored in his final seven outings of last season. While it was suggested Arsenal valued Willock at around £20m prior to his move to Tyneside, that will have increased significantly given his exploits in a black-and-white shirt.

It has been suggested that Newcastle are willing to include Freddie Woodman in a potential deal for Willock, with the goalkeeper’s loan deal at Swansea having ended when the Welsh club lost the play-off final.

Woodman is regarded as one of the most promising young goalkeepers in the country, but finds himself behind Martin Dubravka and Karl Darlow in the battle to start in goal for Newcastle.