Aston Villa boss Unai Emery believes that Ollie Watkins will thrive with more pressure on his shoulders after Danny Ings left the club this week.
As per the club’s official statement, Ings joined West Ham after a relatively brief stint with us having arrived in August 2021, and that decision from Villa has left us short of options up front.
While Cameron Archer is out on loan at Middlesbrough for the rest of the season, the club did announce that an agreement has been reached to sign youngster Jhon Duran from Chicago Fire, but Watkins is now our only senior and experienced option to lead the line.
He responded positively this weekend with the winning goal in our 1-0 victory over Southampton, and Emery believes that the 27-year-old will now thrive off the pressure of being our main striker.
However, the Villa boss added that the club will continue to look to strengthen the squad, specifically with another forward, but he will prioritise quality over quantity and wants any reinforcement to significantly improve what he already has at his disposal.
“It’s very good pressure for him,” he said, as per BBC Sport. “I think he will want this pressure. We are of course looking for something in the transfer window but we are only going to add a player if it can really, really improve the squad. Some players are going to leave, sure, and we want to add players in the squad as well to add some skills, some capacities, improving the squad.”
Watkins has scored two goals and provided two assists in five and a bit league games since Emery took charge, and so he has already provided an excellent response to the new ideas and demands of his latest coach.
However, depending on whether or not we are able to bring in another important option up top, he now faces a real test to deliver consistently in front of goal to ensure we have the firepower to maintain our impressive form.
After Villa’s latest win, we moved to within three points of sixth place in the Premier League, but if we want to build on our recent form and continue to improve, Emery will surely need depth at the very least to ensure we have cover should Watkins suffer an injury setback in the coming months.
That said, there is full faith in Emery’s long-term plan for Villa and his judgement on who arrives and who leaves, and so time will tell who is drafted in to complement Watkins and Duran moving forward.