Everton have been linked with a a potential transfer move for Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins
Everton could turn the tables on Steven Gerrard and profit from a supposed fall-out with one of his players, solving their striker crisis by landing Ollie Watkins from Aston Villa. Football Insider report that the Blues have registered their interest in the England international and claim that the Midlanders are open to letting Watkins go as they work on trying to bring in a new front man in the final weeks of the summer transfer window and a well-placed source has told them Gerrard has a tense relationship with the player as the pair “do not see eye to eye.”
Everton are in desperate need of more attacking options due to Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s injury, the £60million sale of Richarlison last month plus youngsters Ellis Simms and Lewis Dobbin having both been sent out on loan so the Blues’ only recognised striker is Salomon Rondon, brought in on a free transfer by Rafael Benitez last year after working with him in China at Dalian Pro. However, the veteran Venezuelan netted just once in 20 Premier League outings last term and Frank Lampard opted to start with winger Anthony Gordon out of position as centre-forward in last Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Aston Villa rather than pick the 32-year-old who was back available after serving his three-match suspension for being sent off against Brentford in May.
Everton have been linked with moves for Brighton & Hove Albion’s Neal Maupay and Southampton’s Che Adams in recent days but Watkins would represent an arguably more exciting prospect. The Saints man, whose full name is Che Zach Everton Fred Adams, is actually deemed the Premier League player closest in style to Watkins with Comparisonator’s Similarity Comparison placing the pair as having an 84% match but he has never hit double figures in the Premier League while Watkins has achieved the feat in both his seasons at Villa Park, netting 14 in 2020/21 and 11 last term.
If Everton were to capture Watkins because of a deterioration in his relationship with Gerrard, the situation would mirror the scenario that saw Lucas Digne move in the opposite direction last January after his well-publicised fall-out with Benitez. Despite being first choice left-back for almost three-and-a-half years at Everton, the France international was not picked by the Spaniard after the 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool on December 1 and was sold to Aston Villa for £25million on January 13 only for Benitez to be sacked just three days later after a 2-1 loss at bottom-of-the-table Norwich City left him with just one win from his last 13 Premier League games in charge, a sequence that included nine defeats.
Just why might Watkins and Gerrard “not see eye to eye” though? An examination on Comparisonator of the player’s performances last season does show some changes in his figures pre-Gerrard and after the former Liverpool captain left Rangers to take charge.
Under Gerrard, Watkins’ shots went down from 2.35 to 2.01 per game, shots on target from 1.23 to 0.9, dribbles went down from 2.91 per game to 2.16 with his successful dribbles going from 1.68 to 1.04. Watkins’ attacking actions also lowered from 5.82 to 4.66 and successful attacking actions from 2.91 to 1.98.
When describing his style of play back in 2017, Watkins named Thierry Henry as his idol: “I try to base my game on his, by driving at defenders and looking to make something happen when I get the ball.” Perhaps a move to Everton might suit him too and enable him to release the shackles once more?
Comparisonator is a football data comparison tool from 271 professional leagues around the world which compares players and clubs by utilising over 100 different parameters. Click here for more details.
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