Leeds United and Crystal Palace are monitoring Ollie Wakins’ situation amid talks of a rift with Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard.
According to CBS Sport’s Ben Jacobs, Ollie Watkins is on the radars of Crystal Palace and Leeds United, with the latter particularly keen on the forward. There has been chatter in the Aston Villa camp regarding a rift between the striker and manager Steven Gerrard, which the club have rubbished.
Ollie Watkins has been one of Aston Villa’s prominent players since their return to the Premier League a few years ago. His regular goalscoring record has helped the club become a consistent fixture in the top flight, although there has been a slight positional change since last season.
Since the arrival of Danny Ings last summer, Watkins has been regularly deployed in a wide role, first by former boss Dean Smith and now under Steven Gerrard. The forward is not thought to favour playing wide, as he prefers a central role. He did excel in a wide role against Everton at the weekend, creating both Aston Villa goals.
However, there have been suggestions of a rift between the forward and Gerrard recently, although the club have rubbished the reports. Ben Jacobs suggests that if the scenario carries any weightage, the player might push for an exit. Crystal Palace and Leeds United have been reportedly keeping tabs on the situation and could make a move if things are favourable.
Recently Leeds United supremo Andrea Radrizzani hinted the club might sign a striker if they find the right player. The need may arise following Patrick Bamford’s persistent fitness struggles, with the striker hobbling off against Southampton on Saturday.
The Yorkshire club were short in the position last campaign when Bamford missed most of the season with an injury. Radrizzani and Jesse Marsch do not want to repeat the situation and could line up a new forward. Southampton’s Che Adams has been mentioned. But they may switch their attention towards a player like Watkins, should the 26-year-old England international become available in this window.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace could be in for a late dash to sign a new striker. Patrick Vieira is left with Odsonne Edouard and Jean-Philippe Mateta as his options in the No. 9 role after the departure of Christian Benteke. Neither of them is a prolific goalscorer, which could prompt the Eagles to dip their toes in the market.
Watkins would be an ideal striker for Vieira and his style of play. The Villa star is a consistent goalscorer with attributes that facilitate team play. His signing would be a significant coup for Palace or Leeds, although the transfer would be difficult to achieve at this stage. If Villa are forced to sell, they may have to find a suitable replacement as they cannot go into the season with just Ings as their forward.