Ex-Arsenal star Mikael Silvestre has told his former side to end their pursuit of Ivan Toney, in favour of pursuing Aston Villa forward Ollie Watkins. The Gunners are expected to push to sign a striker in the January transfer window to aid their title charge, with several options being discussed by the recruitment team.
Arsenal splashed the cash over the summer to bolster their ranks and ensure that they have sufficient depth in all departments. David Raya arrived to compete for the No.1 spot with Aaron Ramsdale, with Jurrien Timber signed from Ajax to provide an alternative option in defence.
Kai Havertz and Declan Rice both joined the club to add quality to the Arsenal midfield, and Mikel Arteta has reaped the benefits of his concise spending plan. However, the Gunners’ decision not to sign a marquee striker was questioned by many given that the lack of a focal point could prove decisive towards the end of the season.
Arteta is keen to make amends in January and has identified Toney as a top target, with the Brentford star keen to compete at a higher level when his ban comes to an end. But Silvestre believes that Watkins would be a better fit at the Emirates Stadium, telling GGRecon: “The team always needs healthy competition and it needs quality.
“So if Arsenal were to sign another striker in the near future, then it would be Watkins over Toney if the decision was up to me.
“Right now you have Eddie Nketiah at the club alongside Gabriel Jesus, but signing a third striker could present them with a luxury that could be useful at this level. Especially when you consider the amount of games that Arsenal could potentially play this season.”
Watkins has made a sensational start to the Premier League season to justify Silvestre’s bold claims, scoring four and assisting four in eight appearances – scoring a hat-trick against Brighton before the international break. The 27-year-old has spearheaded Villa’s attack in sensational style, showing a willingness to play as a traditional target man but also run into the channels and open up space centrally for his teammates.
Such versatility could prove attractive to Arsenal, though Arteta’s side may be priced out of a move as Watkins signed a five-year deal at Villa Park earlier this month which will see his valuation soar even further. Toney, in comparison, has made it no secret to the Brentford higher powers that he would like to have his exit facilitated and recently changed agents in the hope of getting a deal over the line.