Arsenal eyeing a potential move for Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins
According to James Olley of ESPN, Arsenal are considering orchestrating a deal for Aston Villa star Ollie Watkins. The striker has been the main man in recent weeks at Villa Park and is playing his part in trying to secure European football for the club.
The recently turned 26-year-old began playing the game at Exeter City. He moved up the ranks of the Football League Two side before Dean Smith convinced him to join Brentford in 2017. He stuttered for a couple of seasons before playing to his full potential and almost sealing top-flight qualification for the Bees. Brentford stayed in the Championship in 2020, but Watkins secured a move to Villa to join hands with Smith again. He has since been impressive with the Villans.
Could he now plot an exit from Aston Villa? And could Mikel Arteta lure him to the Emirates?
Ollie Watkins could become an essential signing at Arsenal
Since joining the Birmingham-based club, Watkins has banged in 21 goals in 56 appearances. In fact, he also nearly managed to ensure a top-half finish for the Villans last season after an impressive first half of the season. Smith may have left the club this term, but the player is continuing to star under Gerrard as the club looks to secure European football.
Thus, it adds up to why Arteta may want to see Watkins pull up the famous red jersey. However, there are more reasons than one for the Spanish manager to view the striker as a much-needed option. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is on the verge of being offloaded in January following tension between him and the manager over the striker’s disciplinary issues.
His goals shall be hard to replace as he has led the line at the Emirates for the past four years. Unfortunately, he might not be the only frontman that leaves the club in the coming months. Alexandre Lacazette is in the final year of his contract, as is starlet Eddie Nketiah. The former has been the first-choice centre-forward in recent weeks, while the latter scored a hat-trick in the recent Carabao Cup tie against Sunderland.
Thus, if both players leave on the expiry of their contracts, it will be a loss of quality and manpower, especially at the same time. Arteta is thought to be a fan of Watkins’ style of play and his versatility to play in different roles in the frontline. Thus, since the gaffer likes the player and we could lose some stars in the coming months, it could be a no-brainer to sign the Villa star.
Arsenal might have to approach a summer move
Aston Villa are currently nearer to the relegation zone than to the Top 4, albeit they have played a game lesser than most clubs. But the club would be aspiring to turn things around in the second half of the season, and Watkins might form a crucial part of that ambition. Thus, it makes sense why a January move is thought to be unlikely.
However, the Gunners are monitoring the striker ahead of a summer deal. Signing a Premier League seasoned centre-forward could bode well, but they would be wary of the fact that he has a contract until 2025 at Villa Park. Thus, it would be no surprise if Gerrard and co charge a massive fee for his services, especially if he continues his good form.
Additionally, the English international is not the only one on the radar of Arsenal. The Emirates outfit are also considering moves for Real Sociedad’s Alexander Isak and Everton’s Dominic Calvert Lewin. But the North London club are aware that any replacement is likely to cost a reasonable fee, courtesy of which they are considering other options.
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Watkins may or may not come, but the Gunners have a good project to offer him. They are on the rise, and the rebuild under Arteta is working wonders. The London outfit is currently occupying 4th spot on the table and could secure UCL football. They have a group of young players in every area but could need a striker to lead the line soon – the former Brentford ace could just about be the man to do so.