Aston Villa must make a late transfer move for Josh King, after The Athletic’s David Ornstein revealed that Southampton are locked in talks with Bournemouth for him.
Reports over the summer suggested that Dean Smith’s side had tabled a bid of around £16m for the Cherries ace, but a deal failed to come to fruition before the end of the deadline.
Then, ahead of the January transfer window, it was once again claimed that King could be on Villa’s radar, but it now appears that Southampton are the ones to be making a late push for his signature.
Ornstein has revealed that Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side are locked in negotiations over signing King on a permanent basis for a low fee, and seeing Shane Long move in the opposite direction on loan but with an option to buy.
Given that Villa’s transfer interest in the Norway international has spanned for two windows now, it’s clear that King features highly on Dean Smith’s wish-list.
And when you look at some of the issues that have plagued his side this season, then it becomes all the more needed for Johan Lange to make a late charge on deadline day.
Ollie Watkins has been a revelation for Villa since joining from Brentford – he’s already bagged ten goals in his debut campaign for the club – but he has been the sole man to lead the line for them.
Wesley is only just returning back to full fitness following an ACL injury, and Keinan Davis hasn’t shown anywhere near the kind of form that would see Smith trust in him week-in and week-out – the 22-year-old forward has managed just five goals in a whopping 75 games for the first-team.
Relying on Watkins to do the bulk of the scoring, and not having anyone to cover for him, is a dangerous game, and one that’s already been shown to be a flawed strategy in recent weeks – he went a stretch of nine league games without scoring (over two months), with Villa just winning three of those fixtures.
In the £45k-a-week earning King however, Smith could get someone who knows the Premier League inside out, and has the versatility to play instead of Watkins whenever needed, or even with him, much like he did with Callum Wilson in the pair’s time with the Cherries.
The Norwegian struck 48 times in the competition, and even provided a healthy amount of 15 assists, and would be more of a guaranteed option in terms of what he could produce on the pitch, especially given the Midlands club may even have European hopes this season.
With Southampton seemingly in pole position at the moment as per Ornstein, it would be something of a transfer heist from Lange if he can pull it off. But given Villa’s lack of real depth up front, it’s something that he really needs to do on transfer deadline day.