Arsenal have identified Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins as one of the potential options to replace Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, according to ESPN.
Aubameyang was recently dropped from manager Mikel Arteta’s plans after a disciplinary breach. He has not featured for the last five games.
He is set to miss another five matches. The Gabon star has already joined his national side ahead of their African Cup of Nations campaign.
Amidst this, it is claimed that the Gunners are looking into the future and are braced for Aubameyang’s exit.
They have earmarked Watkins, Alexander Isak, Dusan Vlahovic and Dominic Calvert-Lewin as probable candidates to replace the 32-year-old.
Among those, Watkins appears Arteta’s preferred option. The Spaniard is a huge admirer of his ability to play in different attacking roles.
The Gunners have yet to make contact with the Midlands outfit, and may have to wait until the summer transfer window to land his services.
Watkins was impressive during his debut campaign for Villa last term, bagging 16 goals and seven assists from 40 appearances in all competitions.
He has struggled to replicate the showing thus far. The striker has endured a testing second campaign with just five goals and an assist in 16 games.
Despite this, he has been attracting plenty of transfer interest. Watkins is strongly built with nearly two aerial duels won on average.
The 26-year-old is gifted with pace on the counter-attack. He can operate on either side of the striker, thus making him a versatile attacking option.
Hence, he should fit into the plans of Arteta. Watkins is at the prime of his career, and should only improve if there are more chances created for him.
The prime concern will surely be the price tag. He will have three years left on his contract at the end of the campaign.
He is currently valued at £31.5 million by Transfermarkt, but Villa may demand significantly more for a player, who is an undisputed starter for them.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com and Whoscored.com
Read: Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta provides fresh update on January transfer plans.