Premier League transfer news: Liverpool eye Aston Villa raid

Aston Villa striker and Liverpool target Ollie Watkins

Liverpool are keeping tabs on Ollie Watkins ahead of the summer transfer window, as revealed by Football Insider.

What's the latest transfer news involving Watkins?

Liverpool are believed to be targeting a striker to boost their attacking options next season, and have identified Watkins as a suitable signing this summer.

The Reds are understood to be impressed by Watkins' pace, mobility and aerial ability. They feel that these attributes will allow him to slot into the side next term.

How much is Watkins worth and when does his contract expire?

The 25-year-old only signed for Villa last summer for an initial £28m from Brentford. According to Transfermarkt, his worth has not altered much from that - they currently value him at £28.8m.

However, given his strong showing in the Premier League this year, and the fact that his contract at Villa does not expire until 2025, it seems likely that the Midlands outfit will demand a significantly higher fee for the forward before allowing him to leave.

What are Watkins' stats this season?

Watkins has settled into life in the Premier League very well in his debut season, netting 12 goals in 30 top-flight appearances. Mohamed Salah is the only Liverpool player who has scored more than him in the league in 2020/21.

The Villa attacker is far more than just a finisher, though. As per WhoScored, he has won 117 aerial duels this year - putting him well clear of Liverpool's best performer, Nathaniel Phillips (66), in this category.

He has also delivered 36 key passes, which would put him in the top five at Liverpool based on this season's statistics.

What's been said about Watkins?

Earlier this year, Villa manager Dean Smith praised Watkins following his performance in a 1-0 win over Arsenal.

As reported by the Daily Mail, Smith said:  "I think every week we're speaking very well of his performance, and that's what he brings to the team.

"He's selfless in terms of what his work-rate is. He's such a good footballer but a good team-mate as well.

"It's no surprise to me he has got into double figures already in the Premier League in 21 games."

Can Watkins help Liverpool return to their best?

Watkins being described as "selfless" may lead to some fans thinking about Liverpool's current striker, Roberto Firmino.

The Brazilian has not always received the same amount of attention as Salah and Sadio Mane, but has still been a major part of the team's success in recent years.

He seems to have lost his mojo this year, though. He had scored only six league goals this season, and just once in 2021, prior to Monday night's clash with Leeds.

Aside from his lack of goals, it seems that his ability to press the ball has also dwindled this year, with Liverpool struggling to win the ball back high up the pitch as often as they used to. This was key to their success in the past.

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By bringing Watkins to Anfield, they might be able to get back to what worked so well for them before. As highlighted by Smith, the England international has an eye-catching work-rate, and is constantly hassling defenders.

If he can do that in a Liverpool shirt, then the side would have a better chance of getting the ball back in the final third like they used to, which could in turn see them create more opportunities and return to their devastating best once more.

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