Arsenal are set to be in the market for a centre forward next summer and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins has been touted as a potential replacement for Alexandre Lacazette
Ollie Watkins has emerged as a potential target to replace Alexandre Lacazette at the end of the season.
Lacazette looks destined to leave the Gunners on a free next summer with his contract set to expire and neither party willing to sort an extension.
The Frenchman has slipped further down the pecking order under Mikel Arteta and has played just 49 minutes of Arsenal ’s Premier League campaign.
He was linked with an exit last summer, only to remain in north London for what appears likely to be one more season.
Arteta previously suggested that Lacazette will still be fully involved this season, but actions speak louder than words and according to reports, a shortlist to fill his boots is already being drawn up.
The Sun claim that the Arsenal boss has already been in contact with technical director Edu in order to formulate a plan for the Frenchman’s departure.
It is suggested that Arteta would like to bring in a player with Premier League experience, while continuing the policy of signing players which can progress in the future.
Arsenal’s strategy divided opinion during the summer window, where £148million was spent on players many felt wouldn’t make an immediate impact.
Aaron Ramsdale was arguably the most controversial acquisition, but Arteta was adamant the goalkeeper was the perfect candidate to replace Bernd Leno.
And he is willing to stick to his guns again, with Ollie Watkins and Dominic Calvert-Lewin the two players on his striker shortlist.
The two England internationals – like Ramsdale – would likely cost more than a foreign import, but Arteta is of the belief that players with recent experience of the English top-flight can hit the ground running.
Watkins only signed for Aston Villa last summer, arriving in a deal worth £28m from Brentford and has four years remaining on his deal, meaning the ambitious Midlands club will hold all the cards in negotiations.
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However, if his previous comments are anything to go by, the 25-year-old would be open to offers from the Emirates.
After scoring the winner past the Gunners last season, footage emerged on social media which proved Watkins’ long-term ambition was to play for Arsenal like his hero Thierry Henry.
He was quoted by the Sun as saying: “That’s the dream to play for Arsenal one day. But it’s a long shot.
“It’s only because my family support them and stuff like that. But that’s a long-term [goal].
When asked about his favourite player, he added: “Thierry Henry.
“I’m an Arsenal fan, so Thierry Henry was my [favourite player]. He’s unbelievable to watch. He was the idol growing up really.”
Watkins scored 16 goals in all competitions last season, making his England debut in the process.