Premier League • England

Arsenal given green light to snatch Aston Villa ace amid surprise Gerrard stance

Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa

Arsenal could reportedly sign Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins this summer following a surprise transfer stance from Steven Gerrard.

Watkins hit 26 goals in 49 matches for Brentford during the 2019-20 campaign to earn a club-record transfer to Villa. The West Midlands outfit paid £28million to land the Englishman in September 2020, as per BBC Sport.

Watkins enjoyed an impressive debut campaign at Villa Park, finding the net 16 times in 40 games in all competitions. That included a brace in a shock 3-0 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates.

The 26-year-old has struggled for goals slightly this term, registering six strikes in 23 outings. However, he is still in line for an approach from Arsenal.

According to a report from The Sun, Gunners boss Mikel Arteta will receive the necessary funds to land Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin in the summer.

Should a double deal go through, then they would come in to replace Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Lacazette is a free agent in June, while Aubameyang has already left for Barcelona.

With this in mind, Arsenal have seemingly been given a huge boost as they pursue five-time England international Watkins.

Villa will listen to offers for Ollie Watkins

According to Football Insider, Villa will listen to offers for the goalscorer once the transfer window reopens.

That’s because Gerrard ‘isn’t convinced’ Watkins is the top-class striker he needs to take Villa to the next level.

As a result, Watkins may be sold to Arsenal so Villa can bring in another hitman.

Pundit Noel Whelan has previously told Watkins, alongside strike partner Danny Ings, that the pressure is on for them to score.

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“There’s something clearly wrong because when you look at that attacking arsenal – there’s an abundance of options they can choose from. It’s quite frightening,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“They’ve got to learn how to break teams down. Teams understand how dangerous Villa are and will sit in with a low block.

“They’ve got to show more attacking presence, and there’s massive pressure on Ings and Watkins now.

“At the end of the day, they’re strikers – they are paid to score goals. That’s what we need to start seeing from them, a bit more of a clinical nature.”

Arsenal star receives high praise

Meanwhile, one pundit reckons Arsenal man Aaron Ramsdale should be up there as one of the signings of the season, following his exceptional debut campaign with the Gunners.

“I read that the reason they signed him was probably the reason why everyone thought ‘don’t sign him’,” Karen Carney told Premier League Productions (via the Express).

“Arsenal said that he had back-to-back relegations but they saw resilience in him and it didn’t fear them, it actually made them want to sign him and they knew he could bounce back.

“They knew that he could shout, he could command, he could lead and nothing fazed him.

“That’s why they went after him, the character. I thought that was really interesting because if I was recruiting I’d be going ‘back-to-back relegations, I’m not so sure’ but it actually went in his favour.

“Arguably the signing of the season, maybe. For the impact he’s had, he’s been brilliant.”

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