Transfer Gossip: Arsenal switch to clean-cut striker and battle Man Utd and Liverpool for ‘huge’ transfer

Arsenal would prefer Ollie Watkins to Ivan Toney while they face competition for Brentford’s Aaron Hickey from Man Utd and Liverpool.

There is persistent talk of Arsenal being interested in Ivan Toney (along with Chelsea) but FootballTransfers claim that the Gunners would rather bring in Ollie Watkins in January as he will be match-ready, rather than rusty after serving a ban for football betting. They claim that Edu has already started discussions with Watkins’ agent Paulo Vernazza, who used to play for Arsenal.

‘Sources close to the matter suggest that securing Watkins in the January transfer window could prove challenging but not entirely impossible,’ says the report, which adds that Watkins is an Arsenal fan and is also seen as a cleaner-cut player than Toney, who has angered Mikel Arteta in the past with his cockiness after beating the Gunners with Brentford.

Villa are keen to tie Watkins down to a new deal – his current contract expires in 2025 – but he is said to be wanting £150,000 a week.

Arsenal, Manchester United and Liverpool are all credited with an interest in Brentford wing-back Aaron Hickey, according to Football Insider. The Scot is probably the most-coveted Premier League right-back outside of the elite clubs and that means that he is unlikely to stay at Brentford beyond next summer.

But Hickey will not be tempted to push for a move in January as he wants to ensure he is is playing regular first-team football ahead of a probable Euro 2024 appearance with Scotland. And it is said that the Bees would only be tempted by a ‘huge’ offer as they know the value of the 21-year-old.

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Last week there was talk of Aston Villa rivalling Liverpool for Spain winger Nico Williams, which now sounds kind of sweet as Sport claim that Real Madrid and Barcelona both want him on a free transfer when he leaves Athletic Bilbao next summer. And when Real Madrid and Barcelona and both interested, no Spanish player moves to England.

Their only advantage in this ‘race’ is that a club outside Spain can tie him down to a pre-contract agreement in January, though Williams will likely wait until the summer and a big fat signing-on fee from Real Madrid – already said to be in contact with his agents – or Barcelona. He has already claimed four assists in just four La Liga games this season.

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