Aston Villa are ready to secure the long-term future of Ollie Watkins amid interest from Arsenal, as Steven Gerrard wants to continue with the forward.
According to Football Insider, Aston Villa want to secure Ollie Watkins’s long-term future and offer him a bumper new deal to ward off interest from potential suitors. The striker still has three years left on his current contract, but growing attention from the likes of Arsenal may have prompted the decision for an extension.
Ollie Watkins has not set the world alight at Aston Villa despite managing to post decent numbers. Currently on a five-year deal, the Englishman is only his second season at Villa Park, and he has steadily impressed manager Steven Gerrard in the last few months.
Aston Villa took note of his prolific form with Exeter and Brentford to pay a £33 million fee towards securing him. Watkins repaid the heavy price tag by notching 14 goals in his first term at the club, although his form has faltered in this campaign.
Watkins has only managed eight goals and a single assist across 29 games for Aston Villa this term, which is not prolific by any means. Much of it gets blamed on the experimental systems deployed by Gerrard since replacing Dean Smith in December, which has rendered Watkins without a specific role in the team.
When the English striker has played as a lone frontman, he has been effective and attracted the attention of multiple clubs in the Premier League, including Arsenal. The Gunners have been keen on signing him since last summer, although their inability to move out existing forwards stopped them from making a concrete approach.
However, there is going to be plenty of space opening up in the Arsenal squad when Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah depart on free transfers. Arsenal were handed a boost back in March when Aston Villa reportedly considered selling Watkins in the summer, although their stance has changed dramatically.
Back to Arsenal, and the north Londoners are planning on splurging big on one or two strikers in the summer. The number will depend on Mikel Arteta’s ideas with the squad for next season, with suggestions that Gabriel Martinelli could play a central role.
Nevertheless, Arsenal are stepping up their search for a new frontman, after reports emerged of the club opening talks with Victor Osimhen’s camp over a potential summer move.
Arsenal are also keen on signing Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who could leave Everton after the season ends. As for Watkins, it seems like Arsenal’s interest may have cooled down a bit, considering the stories point at the Gunners tilting more towards other strikers across the continent.
Aston Villa, on the other hand, are keen to secure the future of Watkins irrespective of the growing interest from elsewhere. The 26-year-old will flourish in a consistent system, which Gerrard may deploy next season with Watkins as his leading striker, meaning Arsenal might have to set sights on alternatives.