Ben Jacobs has dropped an update on reported Leeds United transfer target Ollie Watkins.
In a recent post on Twitter, the CBS Sports journalist revealed that, following reports suggesting that Leeds could be offered the chance to sign the Aston Villa centre-forward in the coming weeks amid apparent tension between the 26-year-old and Steven Gerrard, Victor Orta is indeed keeping a close eye on the situation of the England international ahead of a potential swoop.
In his post, Jacobs said: “A final name to mention is Ollie Watkins. Villa sources dismiss tension between Watkins and Steven Gerrard and maintain they don’t want to sell. Palace and Leeds monitoring. Key will be whether Watkins pushes for an exit. Villa calm about situation but no doubt one to watch.”
While there was an argument that Leeds were in need of greater depth up front prior to the events of Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Southampton, after Patrick Bamford was withdrawn in the 28th minute of the match with a tight adductor, it is now undeniable that the Whites simply must bring in a new centre-forward before September’s transfer deadline.
Indeed, Leeds have been heavily reliant on the goals and creativity of the 28-year-old ever since their return to the Premier League back in 2020, with Bamford scoring 17 goals and providing eight assists over 38 league fixtures in 2020/21 – playing a direct role in 40.3% of the club’s 62 goals scored that season.
This point is further proven by the Whites’ goalscoring woes in 2021/22, as, with the England international managing just two goals, two assists and a mere seven top-flight starts last term as a result of injury, Leeds hit the back of the net 20 fewer times than in the campaign prior – avoiding relegation back to the Championship by the skin of their teeth.
As such, should Marsch wish to avoid a repeat of this scenario in 2022/23, the club simply must add greater depth in attack prior to the closure of the summer market, with Watkins appearing to be a very astute player for Orta to be targeting.
The 26-year-old has returned some impressive numbers for Villa since his £28m move from Brentford back in 2020, scoring 14 goals, registering five assists and creating eight big chances over 37 league fixtures in 2020/21, bagging 11 goals, providing two assists and creating four big chances over 35 top flight outings last term and having already provided two assists in two appearances this season.
So, with the £44k-per-week forward – who The Guardian claim could cost up to £50m – clearly being a proven goalscorer and creator in a mid-table Premier League outfit, should Orta indeed be presented with the chance to sign the seven-cap international this summer, it would appear an extremely wise move for the Spaniard to sanction a swoop for the striker.
Indeed, not only would the player who Dean Smith dubbed “unbelievable” be able to provide backup to Bamford in the Whites’ attack, but, when comparing their respective returns over the past few years, Watkins could well prove to push the 28-year-old for his starting spot in Marsch’s XI – something that would only help Leeds in their bid to finish in the top half of the Premier League table.