Arsenal 'preparing bid' for £85.6m England international

The England star is fourth in the race for Golden Boot after the likes of Erling Haaland and Mohamed Salah
Arsenal are preparing to bid for England international and goalscoring starArsenal are preparing to bid for England international and goalscoring star
Arsenal are preparing to bid for England international and goalscoring star

Arsenal are reportedly preparing to make a summer bid for the Aston Villa and England star Ollie Watkins. The 28-year-old has been on flying form for Unai Emery's side and, according to Fichajes via SportWitness, has caught the attention of Mikel Arteta who will be on the hunt for a new number nine for the 2024/25 season.

Folarin Balogun left the Emirates for Monaco last summer which left Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah as the two central options. However, the Brazilian star has been continuously plagued by injuries and inconsistency while the young Englishman has been resigned to a back-up role.

Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring for Aston Villa at Craven CottageOllie Watkins celebrates scoring for Aston Villa at Craven Cottage
Ollie Watkins celebrates scoring for Aston Villa at Craven Cottage
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Leandro Trossard has been the preferred option for Arteta in the role of number nine and was deployed against both West Ham and Burnley, scoring in both fixtures. Kai Havertz has been another who has featured up top for the Gunners but the former Chelsea star was primarily brought in to help in midfield after Granit Xhaka moved to Xabi Alonso's Bayer Leverkusen.

Despite his recent scoring, Trossard is supposedly not considered to be a long-term solution for Arteta and they are now prioritising a deal for the Aston Villa striker Watkins with the view to bid for his services when the next transfer window comes up.

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Watkins, 28, has scored 13 goals and provided 12 assists from his 25 top-flight matches so far this season which has put him fourth in the race for Golden Boot, behind Erling Haaland (16), Mohamed Salah (15) and Dominic Solanke (14).

He has also made the starting line-up in all of the Villans Premier League games, being on target twice during Emery's 2-1 triumph over Fulham on Saturday.

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However, Watkins and Villa Park agreed a new long-term contract back in October with the England internationals current contract not set to expire until the summer of 2028. If Arsenal were to put in a bid, the Villans would be well-placed to ask for an exceptionally high fee and the report from Fichajes suggests that the Gunners may need to cough up around £85.6m.

This would be nearly £60m more than what Aston Villa paid Brentford for Watkins back in 2020 but since then the former Exeter City man has secured 61 goals and contributed 25 assists in 151 games for the Lions across all tournaments. He has also made nine England appearances, scoring three times for Gareth Southgate's side.

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