Aston Villa duo Ollie Watkins and Douglas Luiz have both been linked with moves to fellow Premier League outfit Arsenal in the January transfer window.
According to ESPN, Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta is a fan of both players, particularly the striker, who he has personally identified as a possible replacement for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
The Gabonese striker has recently been stripped of the captaincy by Arteta after a disciplinary breach and could well be on his way out of the club this month, meaning that a replacement could come through the door during January.
Arteta is reportedly keen on the player’s flexibility in attack and, while a deal seems unlikely, the 26-year-old has admitted in the past to growing up as an Arsenal fan and has a dream of one day playing for the Gunners.
As for Luiz, the north London club are also looking to add a holding midfielder to their ranks, with the Brazilian named as a potential target.
The 23-year-old was one of Aston Villa’s first signings after securing promotion back to the Premier League in 2019 and has been a key player since his move to Birmingham. As per WhoScored, he is the club’s second-best performer so far during the current campaign.
There is no doubt that the sale of Watkins and Luiz would generate serious funds for spending, but their presence in the Villa side for the remainder of the campaign would likely prove more valuable than selling them in order to purchase new players.
Firstly, Steven Gerrard would have to find suitable replacements for both players, which could immediately wipe out any income made from parting with the duo. Also, they are both of immense importance to the team, with both Luiz and Watkins featuring in every game under the 41-year-old thus far.
Moreover, selling them to a Premier League rival midway through the season would surely anger the fans and would be a terrible mistake from the manager, particularly with the club eyeing a push for European qualification alongside the Gunners.