Ollie Watkins fortunes can be transformed by arrival of Youri Tielemans at Aston Villa
Aston Villa new-boy Youri Tielemans could potentially be the source of creativity Ollie Watkins has been craving for months.
The club confirmed on 10 June that the 26-year-old would be joining on a free transfer from Leicester City after his contract expired, signing on a four-year deal.
The Belgian international is renowned for his creative spark in the middle of the park – something that could help elevate Watkins’ overall game and make him a more influential presence on a consistent basis.
Despite a simply ridiculous purple patch in form that included 11 Premier League goals from 13 outings, the England striker finished the season off at a whimper, netting just once in his last seven games.
On the whole, this wasn’t through a lack of trying, more so the lack of service coming from midfield.
As per WhoScored, Watkins only managed to get off seven shots from the final five games of the Premier League campaign, which was a huge downturn on the 19 he managed in the five games before that.
During this period of games, he failed to record over 13 passes in a single appearance, which was significantly down on some of the 20+ numbers he was recording in the early days of Unai Emery or even under Steven Gerrard.
When the goals dry up for the 27-year-old, so does his all-round ability to impact the game in the final third.
According to the Opta-powered stats on FBREF, Tielemans sat in the 86th percentile of Premier League midfielders for progressive passes last season (6.95 per 90) as well as the 87th percentile for expected assists (0.18 per 90). His passing into the final third is almost second-to-none, averaging 6.49 passes into eh final third per outing and 1.15 key passes per game.
The Belgian’s arrival completely changes the dynamic of Villa’s midfield, with his exceptional vision, passing range and ability to create goal-scoring opportunities, adding something into the mix that was absent last season.
With Tielemans pulling the strings in midfield, Watkins can expect to receive more quality service, on a regular basis.
Watkins’ intelligent runs and Tielemans penchant for unlocking defences with one swing of his boot could leave Premier League defences quaking next season.
This signing could transform not just Villa’s overall attacking play, but also improve the attacking output of the England international.
In other Aston Villa news, a dribble-shy player must sharpen up his attacking instincts to be a hit under Unai Emery next season.