Crystal Palace are said to be keen on a move for Brentford attacker Ollie Watkins this summer but are being warned that it will take a massive bid to tempt the Bees into sanctioning the sale of the 22-year-old.
Having only signed for the Championship outfit last summer, it should come as no surprise to anyone that they’re desperate to keep hold of him ahead of the new campaign, with his goals and general attacking threat being seen as a key weapon in their battle for promotion from the second tier.
A product of Exeter City’s academy, Watkins’ path into professional football hasn’t been straightforward. Officially joining the Grecians as an U11 after trying and failing to get on their books as a nine-year-old, Ollie rose through the ranks at St James’ Park in impressive fashion, before being loaned out to Weston-super-Mare in December of 2014. He stayed there until the end of the 2014-15 season, bagging 10 goals in 25 appearances.
Having initially struggled to make it into Paul Tisdale’s Exeter side at the start of the following season, Watkins was initially placed on the bench before being given opportunities to start in the final two months of the campaign. It was at this point that his star really began to rise, with eight goals in 10 games between March and April helping to establish him as one of Exeter’s key performers heading into the summer.
The following season saw much of the same from Ollie, with 52 appearances in the first-team bringing six goals, 13 assists and the award for EFL Young Player of the Year. Thanks to that, Brentford took the plunge and signed him for just under £2 million, with the campaign just gone seeing him make 46 appearances and score 11 goals for the Bees in all competitions.
Whilst no one is quite sure how big a bid from Palace would need to be to tempt Brentford into letting him go, estimates seem to put it at somewhere close to £8 million. It would be one hell of a jump from the £2 million they paid for him one year ago but with the Bees under no pressure to sell their star man, I can’t blame them for wanting a hefty fee; after all, they’ll need to adequately replace him if he is indeed allowed to leave.
At first glance, you’d assume Watkins himself would love the opportunity to test his game in the Premier League and with Bakary Sako choosing not to re-sign at Selhurst, it’s a deal that would make sense for us personnel wise.
For the time being, it’s a case of watching and waiting to see how things develop but as initial rumours go, this one certainly seems to make a degree of sense.