Ollie Watkins exit reports heightens amid claims Steven Gerrard is in talks over signing of A-grade Spanish striker for Villa

Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa celebrates scoring his teams second goal making the score 0-2 - Brighton & Hove Albion v Aston Villa

Aston Villa are reportedly stepping up their chase to sign a new Spanish striker, amid growing claims that the club are ready to listen to offers for Ollie Watkins.

The Midlands giants have ambitious plans to push Villa into the upper echelons of the Premier League this season. Aided by the billions of owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, the club has already backed Steven Gerrard heavily this summer. And while the club has five new signings to their name, Gerrard and Co are seemingly not done yet.

Indeed, the Villa boss is seemingly gearing up for one last massive foray into the summer window. To that end, reports have suggested Gerrard wants an A-grade striker to add to his side. To that end, he wants to bring in a frontman as an upgrade to their two current options in Danny Ings and Watkins.

Now, as per Football Insider, it’s been revealed that Villa are in negotiations to prise a top-class striker away from a LaLiga club. And while they don’t identify or reveal the name of that particular player, reports on Wednesday suggested that it might be Raul de Tomas.

The Espanyol striker has a formidable record in LaLiga, netting 45 times in 89 games. Operating at nearly a goal every two games, he’s regarded as one of LaLiga’s best strikers outside the top clubs.

According to transfer insider Dean Jones, Villa are looking into the possibility of bringing De Tomas to England.

“I think it’s one that’s been explored,” Jones told online source GiveMeSport.

“I think that ultimately, Steven Gerrard needs to know for sure that it definitely elevates their goal output for next season. That’s what he’s trying to make sure of; there can be no risks taken here.”

Espanyol drop Raul de Tomas transfer hint

Espanyol would clearly like to keep their prized asset but know the cash from his sale will come in use.

As such, their chairman Mao Ye admits the sale of the £40m-rated attacker is a possibility.

“There is no Raul de Tomas situation. He arrived later in the pre-season and will need more training time to reach the required level,” Ye said.

“He has given us a lot of quality and he is a key part of the squad. This week, La Liga begins and we hope that ‘RDT’ will continue to contribute for us.

“There are days left in the market. And there are always possibilities (that De Tomas could leave). But we have him in our squad.”

At 27 years of age, there is little doubting De Tomas is approaching the peak of his powers.

Whether he is the player that Aston Villa are actually looking at also remains to be seen.

Ollie Watkins and Gerrard ‘don’t see eye to eye’

Any new arrival, however, could lead to the departure from Villa Park of Watkins.

Signed in a then club-record £28m deal from Brentford in September 2020, he has scored 27 times in 77 appearances for Aston Villa.

However, Football Insider, citing a ‘well-placed source’, claims Watkins and Gerrard ‘do not see eye to eye’. And they claim Villa are willing to let Watkins leave before the September 1 deadline.

Reports of a fall-out between Steven Gerrard and Ollie Watkins, however, have been dismissed by the club’s communications director.

Quote tweeting the article in question, he stated: “Absolute nonsense.” That was followed up with: “Some of the nonsense that has been written this week…”

Aston Villa have shown their ambition so far

After sealing a deal for Diego Carlos, Aston Villa aren’t showing any signs of slowing down in the transfer market.

Either way, it’s claimed Gerrard is determined in his quest to overhaul Villa’s squad. As such, is seems certain that the Villa boss wants a new striker to lead his attack this season.

Meanwhile, Gerrard has provided an update on Tyrone Mings, discussing how the defender can earn a recall into the Villa team.