Chris Willock appears to be falling out of favor under Ainsworth’s management at QPR, raising the possibility of his sale in the January transfer window. Despite only 11 matches played in the 2023-24 Championship season, pressure is mounting on Queens Park Rangers’ boss, Gareth Ainsworth.
Ainsworth, once a fan favorite during his time as a player at Loftus Road, returned as head coach in February to replace the underperforming Neil Critchley. However, doubts about his appointment emerged early on. Despite guiding the team to Championship safety in the previous season, the current season has seen a lackluster performance.
Ainsworth has experimented with various strategies and player options to secure positive results, but QPR remains in the bottom three with just eight points. One player who seems to have fallen out of favor under Ainsworth’s management is Chris Willock, who has shown flashes of brilliance in the past.
Before joining QPR from Benfica in 2020, Willock displayed glimpses of his potential during a loan spell at Huddersfield Town. The 2021-22 season was particularly promising for Willock, during which he scored seven goals and provided 11 assists. However, his ongoing struggles with hamstring injuries disrupted his progress.
Willock’s situation worsened when Ainsworth took over in February, as he was sidelined and received limited playing time. In the current season, Willock has made only three starts in seven league appearances, with no goals or assists to his name. Ainsworth’s reluctance to field him, along with short substitute appearances, suggests that Willock may not feature prominently in Ainsworth’s plans.
Ainsworth initially claimed in August that Willock was part of his plans, but it seems that this might not be the case, at least in terms of regular starting opportunities. Consequently, there is a growing possibility that the 25-year-old may be sold in the January transfer window.
Willock’s contract with QPR is set to expire in less than a year, making it more sensible for the club to try and recoup some transfer fee for him rather than risk losing him for free. His value has decreased since his impressive run last season, and while QPR signed him for £750,000 three years ago with the potential for a substantial profit, this may no longer be the case.
Foreign clubs also have the option to negotiate pre-contract deals for the following summer if Willock’s contract situation remains unchanged, potentially limiting QPR’s ability to prevent his departure.