Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd backed to pull off risky Aston Villa raid after Liverpool, Man City rejection claim

Aston Villa stars Ollie Watkins and Emiliano Martinez

Manchester United have been told signing an Aston Villa ace would instantly elevate them and the Red Devils are exploring January transfers, though the move has been deemed a risk.

Despite Erik ten Hag’s public claim Man Utd will oversee a quiet winter window, transfer guru Fabrizio Romano has insisted there’ll be plenty of fireworks.

The trusted reporter declared on Sunday that Ten Hag’s attempts to lower expectations are a red herring. Indeed, the Dutch boss and Man Utd’s decision-makers have already discussed who they should sign next month.

A centre-back and striker are wanted, with the latter move with a view to easing the pressure on Rasmus Hojlund. The Dane is yet to open his account in the Premier League despite making a dozen appearances.

Serhou Guirassy (Stuttgart), Timo Werner and Lois Openda (both RB Leipzig) are all in United’s sights.

However, according to pundit and Sky Sports commentator Don Goodman, United need look no further than Villa Park.

In quotes carried by The Mirror Goodman urged Man Utd to swoop for Ollie Watkins.

The 27-year-old has returned 16 goal contributions in 16 EPL matches this season and his relentless workrate ensures he’s always making an impact even if not on the scoresheet.

Goodman claimed he doesn’t believe Watkins would join Liverpool or Man City. His reasoning stemmed from who those clubs already have at their disposal, with Watkins likely to be relegated to the bench at Anfield or the Etihad.

The story would be different at Old Trafford, however, and Goodman insisted Watkins would instantly elevate Ten Hag’s side.

However, one look at the Premier League table suggests Watkins would have to carefully weigh up ditching Villa for United in the event they acted on their interest.

Villa are very much a club on the rise and have thrust themselves into the title conversation following back-to-back victories over Man City and Arsenal. Man Utd, meanwhile, have lost 11 of their 23 ,matches across all competitions this season.

As such, Watkins to Man Utd would be a risk, but primarily for the player.

Man Utd need Watkins more than Watkins needs Man Utd

“I don’t think Ollie Watkins would go to either Man City or Liverpool,” said Goodman. “I think Darwin Nunez will be sensational.

“It’s only a matter of time before the chances he’s missing start flying in the back of the net and we’ll be saying it was worth the wait.

“I’m not sure if Watkins is an Arsenal type. There’s one club I think he’d elevate instantly and that’s Man Utd

“But for me, take away the name and history of Man Utd and they’re a mid-table team. Aston Villa are a better team.

“I haven’t seen anything this season that suggests Man Utd aren’t a mid-table team.

“Watkins would definitely improve Man Utd, but I’d argue he’s best off staying at Aston Villa for the next couple of years.”

Watkins signed a new deal on October 6 that extended his stay at Villa Park until 2028. With Emery working miracles in the midlands, it would take something extraordinary for Watkins to leave for Man Utd any time soon.

The Red Devils are in the market for a new frontman in 2024 and could splash the cash once Sir Jim Ratcliffe has completed his partial takeover.

Nevertheless, United are not the lure they once were and many will argue that from a purely footballing perspective, leaving Villa Park for Old Trafford would be a backwards step.

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