Unai Emery is eager to see Aston Villa hand Ollie Watkins a new contract to fend off interest in the forward. Arsenal have recently registered their interest in his transfer.
That is according to the Express & Star, which reports that Emery hopes Aston Villa can lock down Watkins’ future. The Spaniard will look to improve his squad over the off-season. But he is keen to retain his best players. John McGinn is another player he is eager to tie down.
Emery has already played a key role in Aston Villa giving Tyrone Mings a new contract since he replaced Steven Gerrard. Now, he hopes to tie up Watkins and McGinn as the ex-Arsenal coach feels the most important stars to fight for the Champions League are already at Villa.
Arsenal have registered their interest in Ollie Watkins’ transfer
Aston Villa have gone from fighting to avoid relegation to battling for a European spot since Emery returned to England. He now feels the Birmingham outfit can build on this season to eventually fight for the Champions League positions. But Villa must keep their best players.
Watkins has been sensational for Emery with 12 of his 14 Premier League goals this season coming under the ex-Arsenal boss. The striker has also laid on four of his six assists in 23 of his 36 appearances. Jamie Carragher even felt Watkins was ‘unplayable’ against Newcastle.
The 27-year-old struck a brace and laid on an assist during the Villans’ 3-0 win at St James’ Park in April. Two goals on Tyneside took Watkins to 11 in his last 12 games, including one against Arsenal in February. Although the striker has not managed to add to his tally since.
But such a phenomenal hit rate has generated admiration across the Premier League. Back in April, TEAMtalk reported that Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle had registered their interest in Watkins’ transfer after talks with the Aston Villa forward’s representatives.
The trio declared their interest via his agents but could face a disappointing pursuit should they move this summer. TEAMtalk added that Watkins is willing to sign a new contract with Aston Villa as he believes he can become a regular for England with Emery as his manager.
Back in March, Rudy Galetti also reported Arsenal’s interest in Watkins’ transfer from Aston Villa. The journalist claimed that Mikel Arteta really appreciates the seven-cap England ace. He has also asked Emirates Stadium chiefs to secure a deal to complete the Gunners’ team.
Watkins, who last represented England in March 2022, is under contract at Aston Villa until June 2025. He agreed to pen a five-year, £75k-a-week contract when joining from Brentford in September 2020. Dean Smith paid the Bees an initial £28m, rising to £33m with add-ons.