Arsenal could sign “phenomenal” £70m Jesus rival who’s similar to Aubameyang

Arsenal have gone from cloud nine just a couple of weeks ago to a mini-crisis after their 2-0 loss to Liverpool on Sunday, their third defeat in a row. Where they were top of the Premier League table on Christmas day, the Gunners now find themselves in fourth place and five points off the Reds.

One of the biggest reasons for Mikel Arteta’s side’s fall off since Christmas has been the abysmal finishing of his frontline, which is made very clear by the fact that they ended each of the previous three games with a higher expected goals figure than their opponents but scored just one goal in all three games.

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This lack of lethality in the strike force has clearly been a concern for the club, as one of the players they have been linked with recently has been scoring for fun and has been likened to former captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.

Arsenal’s hunt for a striker in January

According to a report from the Daily Mail last month, Arsenal are on the lookout for a new striker in January, and one of the names that has made it onto their list of targets is Villa’s Watkins.

The former Exeter City sensation is sure to cost the Gunners a pretty penny, with journalist Pete O’Rourke telling Football FanCast previously that any deal would likely cost in the region of £70m, which sounds about right considering he signed a new long-term contract with the Claret and Blue in October last year.

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However, the north Londoners have something significant in their favour: Watkins has always wanted to play for the club.

In an interview with the Sports Gazette in 2020, the then Brentford striker was open about his desire to pull on the red and white of the Gunners, saying: “That’s the dream, to play for Arsenal one day. But, you know, it’s a long shot.”

While it would be a complicated deal to complete, the knowledge that the sensational striker wants to play for the club should encourage Edu and Co to push on.

How Ollie Watkins compares to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Gabriel Jesus

Now, while Aubameyang ultimately left the club under a cloud of controversy and didn’t enjoy a particularly fruitful final season and a half in north London, it should not be forgotten just how good he was when things were going well at the club.

For example, in the summer of 2020, he became the fastest player in Arsenal history to reach fifty Premier League goals, and then in the same season, he scored against Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-final before scoring a brace in the final to win the entire competition.

So, FBref’s claim that the Gabonese superstar is the fourth most similar player to Watkins across Europe’s top five leagues should be viewed as a favourable comparison, especially as the 34-year-old is currently in the top 1% for assists in Europe’s top five leagues – while the Villa man has racked up ten assists in all competitions.

Moreover, with the “phenomenal” Watkins, as described by BBC Sport pundit Farah Williams, seemingly scoring for fun this season – with 14 goals thus far across all fronts – he could replace Gabriel Jesus in the starting XI and even go on to replicate some of the goalscoring form that led to Aubameyang getting the captaincy during his spell with the club.

When comparing the pair’s underlying numbers, it is very apparent that the Brazilian would have to seriously up his scoring rate or vacate his position in the starting XI.

The Arsenal fan scores more goals, provides more assists, requires fewer chances to score and produces more goal-creating actions per 90 compared to Jesus – who has just three league goals this season, in contrast to Watkins’ nine.

Ultimately, while this would be an expensive deal to complete and potentially upset Jesus, the team is in need of a clinical finisher, and Watkins’ performances this season suggest he could be that for the Gunners.

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