Arsenal: 5 striker transfer targets eyed to replace Lacazette

Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, Edu Gaspar (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Arsenal, Mikel Arteta, Edu Gaspar (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images) /
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Arsenal, Ollie Watkins
LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 03: Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa celebrates his goal during the Premier League match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 03, 2021 in London, England. (Photo by Eddie Keogh/Getty Images) /

2. Ollie Watkins – Aston Villa

Age: 25
Rumoured fee: A lot
Contract expiry: 2025

Converted from a winger to a striker by Dean Smith during his Brentford days, the rise of Ollie Watkins has been mightily impressive. Hitting ten league goals in each of his first two campaigns with the Bees, he found the net for fun in the 2019/20 season at centre-forward with 25 goals in the Championship, prompting Aston Villa to fork out a fee of up to £33m to sign him.

Hitting a very decent 14 Premier League goals in his first season in the top-flight, England came calling and he’s since made five international appearances, scoring with his first ever shot on target for the Three Lions. And, guess what, he wants to join Arsenal! Well, did.

"“That’s the dream,” Watkins said in 2020. “To play for Arsenal one day, but you know, it’s a long shot”"

As part of a Mark Irwin exclusive, Watkins is on the Gunners’ radar. That radar better have a few bills attached to it though, as while there is no fee mentioned Villa will charge one heck of a premium for him.

As a profile there is a lot to like about Watkins. A superb dribbler, his ability to get into good positions is demonstrated with his 9.08 progressive passes received per 90 (82nd percentile) and carries into the penalty area (85th percentile). Quick with and without the ball, one of the more endearing aspects of his game is the strength in attacking the box from all angles: positioning well between central defenders or attacking channels, there is a diversity to his play.

Does he need to improve his finishing? Only Nicolas Pepe had recorded a higher xG this season without scoring up until Watkins scored against Spurs last time out. But that’s not a concern, his finishing is more than fine.

Players with his movement in transition are hard to come by. Fantastic on the break and brilliant in interchanging around the box, Watkins is an exciting forward.