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£65,000-a-week forward rejects new deal as Aston Villa eye bargain transfer

Written by on May 3, 2024

As Aston Villa prepare for Champions League football under Unai Emery, they seem to be well aware that squad depth is the key to maintaining form in four competitions, with a back-up for Ollie Watkins now on the agenda.

Aston Villa transfer news

To say that the Villans have enjoyed an excellent campaign would be an understatement. Some would have been quick to chalk down their early season success as nothing more than that, but now in May, they remain on course to seal a place in the Premier League’s top four. That will come with its transfer benefits too, especially with fear around Financial Fair Play at an all time high throughout the league.

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Aston Villa tracking £760-p/w Premier League midfielder similar to Kamara

He could be available on the cheap this summer too.

With that said, reports have already linked Villa with the likes of Jonathan David in an attempt to find a back-up option for star man Watkins. The last thing that those in the Midlands need is to overwork their forward to result in a dip in form. The England international has been one of the standout players in the entirety of the Premier League this season and looks to only be getting started under Emery.

That’s not to say Aston Villa need to splash the cash to find a back-up, however, with a far wiser option available. According to Wayne Veysey of Football Insider, Aston Villa want to sign Kelechi Iheanacho in a free deal this summer after the forward rejected a number of contract offers from current club Leicester City. An experienced Premier League forward, Iheanacho represents a summer bargain that could make all the difference in the next campaign at Villa Park.

“Fantastic” Iheanacho can bridge gap in quality to Watkins

Finding a player who’s capable of stepping up in place of Watkins to hand the England international a rest will be no easy task, but Iheanacho is capable of doing just that when at his best. A similar player to Watkins as a hybrid between a finisher and a creator who can drop slightly deeper, the Nigerian could quickly become a smart acquisition if he completes a move to Villa Park this summer.

League stats 23/24 (via FBref)

Kelechi Iheanacho

Ollie Watkins

Starts

10

34

Goals

5

19

Assists

1

12

Expected goals

6

16

Whilst the sample size this season makes Iheanacho difficult to predict, when he has started for Leicester this season, he has maintained a record of scoring every other game in a trait that would work with the role he’d be likely to play at Villa Park.


kelechi-iheanacho-leicester-championship

It’s the type of consistency that justifies the forward’s reported £65,000-a-week salary and the type that previously earned the praise of former Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who told Sky Sports: “Since he has come into the team he has just been fantastic. I am delighted for him because he is such a conscientious guy, such an honest guy, and as you can see now, a very talented player.”

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