£28m Aston Villa striker ‘wants to stay’ following Steven Gerrard departure

Unai Emery has taken charge of his first Aston Villa training session today
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Ollie Watkins is eager to stay at Aston Villa despite rumoured interest, according to journalist Dean Jones. The striker looked to be on his way out prior to Steven Gerrard’s sacking.

Watkins impressed at Villa Park following his £28 million move from Brentford two years ago, scoring 14 goals in his first Premier League campaign. However, he had only netted once this season under Gerrard.

Reports claimed that Villa were prepared to sell the 26-year-old over the summer amid a ‘tense’ relationship with the former Rangers boss, despite making 12 starts so far. The apparent rift between the pair led to The Express recently reporting that Leeds United were interested in bringing Watkins to Elland Road.

The Whites have relied on Patrick Bamford in recent years, however the 29-year-old is yet to get off the mark this season and has struggled with his disappointing run of injuries. A move for Watkins would make sense as they search for a proven goalscorer, however it now looks like the forward could remain in the Midlands.

Speaking to GiveMeSport, Jones said: “As soon as [Steven] Gerrard is gone, Watkins is back on the goal trail. “He doesn’t want to leave Aston Villa, ultimately he’ll see this as a clean slate for him and I don’t think Leeds will be able to get him.”

It didn’t take long for Watkins to get amongst the goals following Gerrard’s exit, with the England international claiming Villa’s fourth goal in their thrashing of Brentford last month. With Unai Emery set to take charge for their upcoming match against Man United, Watkins will need to continue adding to his tally if he is to become a favourite under the Spaniard.

However, Watkins certainly hasn’t been provided with much competition this season, with Danny Ings their current top scorer with four goals, while Leon Bailey sits in second with three. With the Birmingham outfit sat only a point above the relegation zone, their attackers will all need to pick up some form to impress under Emery.