Robbie Fowler says that Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City should all have a summer transfer interest in Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.
The striker’s form has proved one of the feel-good stories of the Premier League season. Villa raised eyebrows in September by making him their club-record signing from Brentford for £28million. However, he has answered all those questions with 13 Premier League goals and a first England call-up.
What’s more, he does plenty of work off the ball – something a top modern striker must also do apart from add goals.
Indeed, Manchester City’s Premier League resurgence has taken place largely without a recognised striker. Meanwhile, Liverpool‘s Roberto Firmino stands out as the obvious example of a multi-faceted forward.
As such, Fowler reckons that the top flight’s biggest clubs should all have Watkins on their radar.
“I look at him, and I see a striker who is prepared to learn, prepared to work. In fact, I spotted last year his work rate is incredible, and [Villa boss] Dean Smith says he’s the best pressing centre forward in the league,” Fowler wrote in his Sunday Mirror column.
“To me that’s significant. Because what do the top teams want? A forward who performs a crucial pressing role. Manchester City, Liverpool, United, Chelsea. They all want a striker who performs the press with energy and intelligence, and does more than one job.
“Of course, they’d like one who scores too, but it’s not just about goalscoring any more.
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“Far from it. Look at Roberto Firmino at Liverpool, look at City without a recognised number nine, and Chelsea sticking with Werner.
“I’m not trying to sell Watkins – honestly Villa fans! – but he’s taken the step up every time so far, and I can see him doing it again. To the very top level, if he can keep the trajectory of his work rate, attitude and mentality.”
Reports have already claimed that Liverpool are keeping an eye on Watkins ahead of a potential raid.
According to Fowler, the 25-year-old would be a fantastic addition to Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Fowler tips Watkins for big transfer
“Interestingly, Jurgen Klopp absolutely sang his praises a few weeks ago, and you can definitely see someone with his pressing ability – and the stats to go with it – doing well under that sort of manager,” the pundit added.
“And believe me, clubs like City and Liverpool with their massive analytics departments will have run those stats many times already.
“Many people said the £28m Villa paid for Watkins was a gamble. Some said it was crazy. It looks neither now, and you wonder if it may just have been a shrewd investment.
“I think he’ll go to the Euros with England, and I think he’s ready to step up again.”
Watkins won his battle with Leeds striker Patrick Bamford to earn a Three Lions call-up in March.
However, Bamford did his credentials no harm with another goal in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Tottenham.