One player that has been brought into the club in recent years that has gone on to become a key figure for Villa is striker Ollie Watkins, who joined from Brentford back in the 2020 summer transfer window in a deal worth a then club-record fee of £28m.
Since becoming a Villa player, the Englishman, who is currently valued at £31.5m according to Transfermarkt, has gone on to make 58 appearances across all competitions, scoring 21 goals and providing six assists along the way.
Labelled as a “selfless” player by former Villa manager Dean Smith, Watkins’ future could become the centre of some speculation after former Villa and Arsenal player and Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson recently claimed on Soccer Saturday (via Birmingham Live) that Mikel Arteta’s side should launch a move to sign the 26-year-old.
Given how he’s started 16 of Villa’s 20 Premier League games this season and is currently listed as the third-highest rated Villa player to have started more than one league game according to WhoScored, it would certainly be a big blow if the striker were to join Arsenal, or any other club anytime soon considering how important he is to Steven Gerrard’s side.
Taking into account how Villa said goodbye to Jack Grealish during the previous summer transfer window after fellow Premier League club Manchester City came calling with a £100m offer, if the same were to happen with Watkins and Arsenal, the Villans could start to build up a reputation as being a selling club or a place for players to use as stepping stone to make a move elsewhere, which is not what anyone associated with Villa would want to happen.
Even though his current contract at Villa Park isn’t set to expire until the summer of 2025, it would be worth Gerrard or any of the club’s hierarchy to have a discussion with Watkins to make sure he knows how valued he is there and convince him to stay where he is by reaffirming their ambitions of securing European football and becoming an elite club.