Aston Villa have reportedly opened talks with talismanic striker Ollie Watkins over a potential contract extension.
Impressed by the striker’s form under Unai Emery, the Birmingham-based giants are keen to tie their prized asset down to a new long-term deal, as per BBC.
Watkins’ current contract runs out in 2025, and Villa are unwilling to take any risks about their star forward’s future heading into the next summer transfer window.
Villa made the 27-year-old the club’s most expensive signing at the time when they forked out £28 million to lure him away from Brentford in September 2020.
He has repaid their confidence with 47 goals in 125 appearances for the Midlands outfit, scoring a late winner in a 1-0 triumph against Chelsea last weekend.
As Emery’s most trusted frontman, Watkins tallied 15 goals in the Premier League last season and already has four to his name after nine games across all competitions in 2023/24.
His hat-trick in the first leg of Villa’s Europa Conference League qualification play-off tie against Hibernian laid the foundation for the club’s first group-stage appearance in European competition in over a decade.
It took Watkins six rounds into the new Premier League season to open his account, but he couldn’t have picked out a better time to find a breakthrough.
His lethal finish at Stamford Bridge inspired Villa to their fourth league win of the new season and second on the trot, moving them within a two-point distance of fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.
Emery could give his first-choice centre-forward some rest when Villa host Everton in Wednesday’s League Cup tie, especially with a mouth-watering home league clash against Brighton & Hove Albion waiting in the wings.
With Watkins likely to start on the bench, Colombian youngster Jhon Duran could lead the line against Sean Dyche’s underachievers, who slumped to a 4-0 league defeat at this venue in August.
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