Do Aston Villa need Odsonne Edouard when they have Ollie Watkins?

Martin Macdonald
Do Aston Villa need Odsonne Edouard when they have Ollie Watkins?

Aston Villa have been strongly linked with a move for Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard this summer, but do they need him?

Since making his loan move from PSG to the Hoops permanent, Edouard has emerged as the best striker in Scotland, and although there are those who would say he is excelling in a lower quality league, he has shown enough to suggest he has the talent to succeed elsewhere.

As well as Aston Villa; Arsenal, West Ham, and Leicester City have been mentioned as potential destinations for Edouard, with the Frenchman looking likely to leave Glasgow this summer.

Former Celtic striker Frank McAvennie believes it is a “foregone conclusion” that Edouard will go,

“Edouard will leave in the summer,” he told Football Insider.

“It is a foregone conclusion. There are a few that will be leaving. Edouard is doing really well now, he is starting to score goals frequently.

“I imagine he will go back to France. I am not sure if he will move to the Premier League but let me tell you, he could make it down in England – easily.”

Edouard to Aston Villa?

Edouard’s links to West Ham, Arsenal, and Leicester are all understandable as each of these teams is arguably in need of a new centre-forward.

The Hammers desperately tried to sign a striker in the January transfer window and reportedly had bids rejected for Youssef En-Nesyri of Sevilla and RB Leipzig’s Hwang Hee-chan.

At Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t getting any younger, while Alexandre Lacazette has been average for a while now, with the latter potentially looking at a transfer away this summer.

Leicester, meanwhile, need to start looking at a long-term replacement for Jamie Vardy, and at the very least someone to share his goalscoring burden in the centre-forward position.

2020/21 StatsEdouardWatkins
Starts1923
Goals1510
Assists22
Shots P904.22.8
Touches in Box P908.76.4
Via FootballCritic

Aston Villa, though, represents a strange link, as in September of the 2020/21 season they parted with £28 million (€32m) to sign Ollie Watkins from Brentford.

Though he had a dry spell between January and November, Watkins has scored 10 goals in 23 starts for Villa in his debut season in the Premier League, which is certainly not a tally to be sniffed at.

There is, of course, the possibility of Edouard and Watkins featuring in the same team together, but at no point this season have Villa played in a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2 formation, meaning that one of them would have to either play out wide in a 4-2-3-1, or on the left or right of a front three.

Edouard has played to the left before, but his best position remains as a central number nine.

Though the global pandemic has seen player valuations decrease around Europe, Aston Villa would still likely be looking at a fee of around £20m or more for Edouard, as Celtic would be keen to get more than the fee they got for previous star striker Moussa Dembele when he left for Lyon.

The transfer to Villa could happen, but one of Edouard and Watkins would have to change their game to accommodate the other.