After struggling for goals last season in their return to the Premier League, it was no surprise to see Aston Villa splash the cash to bring in a new centre-forward in the summer transfer window.
Dean Smith’s side had managed just 41 goals in their 38 league games, with Jack Grealish their top-scorer with ten. Wesley, was Villa’s highest-scoring striker and he only netted six times in all competitions.
So when the Villans brought in Ollie Watkins from Championship side Brentford, the hope would have been that he could slowly adjust to life in the Premier League and then eventually prove to be a decent striker at this level.
And whilst his form has tailed off somewhat in the past few weeks, there’s no questioning that he’s been an absolute revelation for Smith.
Speaking earlier this season, The Athletic’s Gregg Evans waxed lyrical about the kind of transformation Villa have had thanks to Watkins’ arrival.
He said: “I really think he’s making a big difference actually, to Villa, I think that he’s given them a new dimension and his hold up play is great, he creates space for others and that’s helping the midfielders flourish.”
The £27m-rated machine has bagged eight goals in 19 games in all competitions, and showed himself to be a real big-game player already.
He scored a hat-trick in that memorable 7-2 thrashing of Premier League champions Liverpool, before following that up with a brace against Arsenal in a 3-0 win at the Emirates.
Given that Watkins had never tasted top-flight football before this season, there was a massive element of risk with the 25-year-old’s signing. But the English ace has confounded all expectations by taking to the Premier League like a duck to water.
And after he helped Villa to a superb 3-0 victory against Crystal Palace after being down to ten men, Smith raved: “I said to them at half-time in the dressing room, ‘There’s nobody I could choose out of the Premier League to lead the line with 10 men’ with Ollie Watkins. I thought he was outstanding today and the only thing missing was his goal.
“Listen, the numbers he produces in terms of his high-speed running and sprinting distances is incredible. The lads really appreciate the work he puts in.”
Villa struck transfer gold by signing Watkins in the summer.
Meanwhile, Villa must land this Scandinavian starlet…