Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler firmly believes Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins has the all-round game to make it at the highest level.
The 25-year-old has scored 15 goals this season, but Fowler has highlighted the forward’s ability to press the ball as a key trait, which means he could be a perfect successor for Roberto Firmino. He also thinks the Manchester United, Chelsea or even Manchester City should consider the England international as a potential summer signing:
“I look at him [Watkins], and I see a striker who is prepared to learn, prepared to work. 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.”
“Interestingly, Jurgen Klopp absolutely sang his praises a few weeks ago, and you can definitely see someone with his pressing ability – and the stats to go with it – doing well under that sort of manager.”
The striker has undoubtedly had an excellent season, and Fowler certainly knows a thing or two about being a successful number nine in the Premier League. However, you would like Watkins to perform at this level for a considerable length of time before making a definitive judgement.
He has only had one campaign playing in the top flight, and if a club like Liverpool are to shell out a sizeable fee on the player, you would have to be 100% sure that he could sustain this form in future seasons.