Steven Gerrard could be willing to part ways with one of his star forwards, according to transfer insider Dean Jones…
“It’s an interesting story and one thing that has become clear to people close to Aston Villa over the course of this year is that Gerrard has some reservations about Watkins, so it would not be a surprise to see him replaced.”
Although he promised much after his club-record £28m transfer to Villa under ex-manager Dean Smith, Watkins has struggled to grow into the player many thought he would.
Having scored an astounding 25 Championship goals during the 2019/20 season, and seemingly taken to the Premier League in his debut year scoring 14, reports of a bust-up with his manager could see him exit Villa Park.
With one source claiming the pair “do not see eye to eye”, perhaps Gerrard will look to cash in whilst Watkins is still young and scoring a fair amount of goals.
This however does not make the forward irreplaceable, as despite his 11 league goals last season he still missed a further ten big chances.
He lives up to the notion that he is often a “blunt & disappointing” striker, as Mark Donne labelled him.
Gerrard has often opted for a lone striker backed up by three creative players just behind him, meaning that if Watkins was to leave, he would need only find a direct replacement to battle with Danny Ings for the spot.
The 26-year-old also does not boast any particular strengths that would make him irreplaceable, ranking in the 54th percentile for dribbles completed, the 42nd percentile for shot-creating actions, and the 76th percentile for pressures.
It would not be tough to replace these stats whilst also improving upon his goalscoring numbers.
Watkins is a solid all-around striker, but perhaps with more of a pure finisher up front, Gerrard could get more out of the likes of Phillipe Coutinho and Emi Buendia’s creativity.
He is far from irreplaceable, and as an English player entering his prime years, Villa would surely be able to earn a substantial fee to fund his successor.