Ollie Watkins could be the perfect striking alternative to succeed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
The striker position is one which Arsenal have targeted in the past to bolster and most recently signed Nicolas Pepe as a way to improve that department.
But as Lacazette’s minutes dwindle, the possibility of his Arsenal career continuing simmer away as well. Eddie Nketiah is another Hale End product who broke through the ranks to find his way in the squad but barring the occasional Carabao Cup appearance, the England youngster has found first-team football hard to come by and could look for new pastures for the good of his career.
Watkins shone for Dean Smith’s side last season as they surprised many with their free-flowing attacking football and in turn, challenged the higher percentage of the Premier League table. The former Brentford man was one of the standout performers for Villa last season and bagged a hat-trick in the remarkable 7-2 win over then-champions Liverpool.
Aubameyang has seemingly evolved his game to feature in a similar vein as Cristiano Ronaldo and rather than drifting out wide the Gabon international now finds himself occupying the number nine role becoming something of a penalty area player.
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Tammy Abraham linked in the summer window just gone and both of whom seeming unlikely options with Calvert-Lewin’s form for the Evertonians and Abraham’s start to life in Rome, Watkins with the playmaking ability the Gunners have at their disposal could emulate the form he shown in his debut season at Villa Park.
Speaking on The Arsenal Way agenda show, engagement producer Umar Choudhry likes the idea of Watkins joining the Gunners.
“I think he’s the right profile of players we should be targeting. He’s homegrown, he’s young, he’s come to the Premier League since his move Brentford and he’s proved that he can play in the Premier League,” Umar said.
“Last season, he was fantastic, this season he has started a bit slow but that obviously doesn’t help when you’ve got a player like Jack Grealish but in the last few weeks he’s starting to come into his own again and he’s the type of profile I would be targeting.
“Say Lacazette was to leave – which I think he is – Eddie Nketiah I think will go as well even Aubameyang, I think he may go as well, so he’s the right profile in terms of age, ability. He’s got experience of playing for England in the national team so he’s done it, he’s done it week-in, week-out for Aston Villa.
“I like Ollie Watkins, aerially he’s good, I think he’s quick, his hold up play is very good, he’s imposing and he knows how to score goals as well. I think with Ollie Watkins he’s at that age where if he goes to a bigger club I think he can improve even more so that’s what I wanna see when the players at 24 they’ve done it week-in, week-out but there’s still a little bit of hope that they can break into like 20-30 goal a season striker.
“I think Ollie Watkins is capable, if he goes to Arsenal obviously we have the attacking players behind him who will create a number of chances and as you saw when he played with Jack Grealish, how many chances Jack Grealish created for him and he was scoring goals so when you have the likes of Saka, Smith Rowe who are similar sort of players to Jack Grealish I think it would be an astute signing.”
Similar to his start to the campaign last season, Watkins has struggled to find form but it was around this time last year that he hit the ground running for the Villains.
Part of the reason why his start has been somewhat fraught is the mitigating factor of Grealish’s absence following his British record transfer move to Manchester City.
They utilised their sale and added Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emi Buendia to accommodate his departure and the 25-year-old netted at the weekend, opening his tally for the season.
He currently has four years remaining on his contract in the Midlands, he has been eyed as a replacement for the Frenchman but having signed a long-term deal, Arsenal would be forced to pay a considerable amount for his services.
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Source by Football London