Arsenal set to seal shock move for Aston Villa's Watkins on one condition
Former Leeds United and Derby County forward Noel Whelan has claimed that Arsenal may move to get a deal done for Ollie Watkins from Aston Villa if they feel that he can be improved even more.
Watkins has been linked with a move to the Gunners in recent weeks, with speculation surrounding the English striker's future at Villa increasing, as he has seemingly fell down the pecking order under Steven Gerrard, according to a report from Football Insider.
To add to this, Whelan has suggested that the 26-year-old could be the man to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who left for Barcelona in January.
Speaking to Football Insider, Whelan said "Aubameyang is a massive name, and he's firing them in for Barcelona right now."
"Is Watkins the type of player who can come in and have that same impact? I'm not so sure, I think Aubameyang is just that grade ahead when in form."
However, he added that Watkins is "young and he's got talent", and "There's nothing to say that he can't step into those shoes in the future."
"If he's willing to go and Arsenal are willing to pay, it's clear from what we know about their recent signings they are looking for youth and longevity."
"He's relatively young but he’s already got that international recognition with England."
"It's not the worst signing that they could make. We've seen him do it for Villa and his work rate is really good."
"It's just the end product that hasn't quite been consistent enough just yet."
He concluded by saying "Maybe Arsenal are seeing something that they can turn around. If they can then he could be the main man upfront for them."
Arsenal are in desperate need for a striker, especially with Eddie Nketiah and Alexandre Lacazette's contract expiring at the end of the season, leaving them with just Gabriel Martinelli and Folarin Balogun as players that could play up front next season, both still very young.
Villa has been one of Villa's most used players ever since he signed from Brentford in 2020 for £28 million plus £5 million in add-ons, but his downturn in form this season has seen his game time being shared with Danny Ings.
Watkins has the ability to also play on the wings through his explosive pace, and so he would offer Arsenal a great deal of versatility going forward.
The 26-year-old has just six goals and one assist in 23 games in all competitions this season, and he ended a two-month goal drought in the 2-0 win vs Brighton last week.