Would Ollie Watkins be a smart signing for Liverpool next season?
Liverpool could do much worse than to consider signing Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins, according to club legend Robbie Fowler.
Although the English forward only made the move to Villa last summer for no less than £36 million, the former Liverpool goal scorer believes the 25-year-old may be an ideal long-term solution for Jurgen Klopp’s forward line.
“I look at him, and I see a striker who is prepared to learn, prepared to work,” said Fowler in the Daily Mirror.
“In fact, I spotted last year his work rate is incredible, and Dean Smith says he’s the best pressing centre forward in the league.
“To me that’s significant. Because what do the top teams want? A forward who performs a crucial pressing role. Manchester City, Liverpool, United, Chelsea. They all want a striker who performs the press with energy and intelligence, and does more than one job.
“Of course, they’d like one who scores too, but it’s not just about goalscoring any more. Far from it. Look at Roberto Firmino at Liverpool, look at City without a recognised number nine, and Chelsea sticking with Werner.
“I’m not trying to sell Watkins – honestly Villa fans! – but he’s taken the step up every time so far, and I can see him doing it again. To the very top level, if he can keep the trajectory of his work rate, attitude and mentality.”
Is Watkins the kind of player Liverpool needs?
With 13 goals and four assists in 34 league games for Dean Smith’s side this season, there’s no doubt that Watkins has proven himself as a striker that can confidently score goals in the English top flight.
However, there are other aspects of Watkins’ game that could suggest he’d be a smart signing for Klopp’s team next season.
For example, while the forward isn’t suited to the wide positions like Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane, Watkins can play as a pressing forward in a similar style to Roberto Firmino.
Indeed, according to SciSport, the player is currently ninth among Premier League forwards this season for his counter pressing and also in the top 10% when it comes to suppressing passes from opposing players in the opposition half.
In other words, Watkins is not only a useful goalscorer, but is also a hard-working forward that enjoys pressing opposition defenders and would slot into Klopp’s system relatively well.
The only question that remains is whether Villa would be willing to give up their prized forward and if Liverpool could afford the price they demand.