After Exeter City’s dramatic 6-5 aggregate win over Carlisle United secured them a place in the League 2 playoff finals, Ollie Watkins’ name has been on the lips of many Leeds United supporters following his performance. Gary Monk has been rumored to be interested in Watkins, and after his two-goal performance on Thursday, Watkins’ stock has risen to new heights and a move to Leeds (hopefully) could be in the books.
Ollie Watkins is a young lad with serious potential to be great in England. At 21 years of age, he was named the EFL Young Player of the Year, and already has Football League Young Player of the Month and League Two Player of the Month awards to go along with that. A product of the St. James Park youth system, Watkins has guided Exeter City to success this season, bagging in 16 goals amongst all competitions. His last two goals may have been the most important of his career, as his brace against Carlisle sent Exeter City one game away to League One, and more than likely will send Watkins to a new team this summer. He’s out of contract at the conclusion of the playoff final, and the Derby Telegraph have reported that Exeter will be eligible for £3m in compensation.
So what’s there to like about Watkins’ game? Short answer: a lot. He has a good mind for being in the right place at the right time. Many of Watkins’ goals have come from him just being at the right place, be it collecting a rebound or receiving a pass when the Grecians decide to be sweaty on the pitch. Positioning is an important skill to know, even if sometimes it’s just a fluke. That being said, it shouldn’t take away from his ability to score goals by himself. Watkins isn’t shy about taking defenders on by himself. Over and over again, Watkins dribbles past defenders into space and immediately fires away. He isn’t afraid to let loose from outside the box/just barely inside it. He’s had success scoring from long(ish) range, but admittedly some of that can be attributed to League 2 goalkeeping; Championship level keepers sh/could make a save on some of the long-range strikes he’s scored from this season. “Attacker” is the perfect term for his game, in my opinion. Watkins can line up at striker, but can also be used as a winger and attacking midfielder. Given Leeds’ lack of depth/skill at all of those positions, Watkins could be used in a Swiss army knife role. Chris Wood is hurt/tired/on international duty? Boom, Ollie Watkins. Pablo Hernandez doesn’t play well in away games? Boom, Ollie Watkins. Garry Monk wants to have another attacking winger? Boom, Ollie Watkins.
Joining the Whites could have a pretty big impact on Watkins career. Duh, he’s in the Championship now, of course it would. Of course, that would too. But given his age, Leeds can provide more to Watkins than just being just a Championship side that will be back in the Premiership next season. At whatever position he ends up playing, Ollie Watkins would have great mentors. Chris Wood knows a thing or two about scoring goals in the Championship, and although he never was much of a scoring threat in the Premier League, he has experience of being there. If Watkins does sign for Leeds and decides to be a striker, Woody is a great guy to learn from. The jump from League 2 to Championship football can be a hard one, but Kemar Roofe has done the same thing, having made the jump from Oxford United to Leeds. If you’re looking for a player to compare Ollie Watkins to on this current roster, I think Roofe is a good player to compare him too. Finally, if Watkins ends up as a CAM, Pablo Hernandez could take him under his wing and teach him a lot. The ultimate Jekyll and Hyde player, Hernandez is top class on his day. Ollie Watkins signing for Leeds would help out Leeds almost as much as it would help out Ollie Watkins’ career.
If (soon to be) owner Andrea Radrizzani wants to make a splash this summer, signing the EFL Young Player of the Year would be a good way to kick it off. Watkins is said to be pursued a lot this summer, with Devon Live reporting that Aston Villa, Brentford, and Southampton are all interested in the attacker. I won’t lie, I have skeptical hippo eyes whenever someone in League 2 has success. That being said, Kemar Roofe in my eyes is the best attacking winger we have, and he too made the jump. The left wing is a position up for grabs, and an attacking “Big 3” of Wood-Roofe-Watkins could, fingers crossed, bring a lot of success for the Whites. If nothing else, Leeds have depth concerns up top (among other positions), so bringing in Watkins to compete with Marcus Antonsson would still be welcome.
What do you think? Are you on board the Watkins hype train? Let me know why or why not in the comments. MOT