Express & Star

Mark Bosnich makes bold Premier League claim regarding Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins

Villa hero Mark Bosnich believes Ollie Watkins – not Phil Foden – is currently the Premier League’s best player.


Watkins is enjoying the best season of his career having scored 16 league goals and 21 in all competitions for Unai Emery’s team.

The England international has also set up 10 goals in the league, making him statistically the top flight’s most productive player to this point.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hailed Foden as the league’s best after his brace helped down Manchester United on Sunday, yet Bosnich thinks it is Watkins who has the edge.

The two-time League Cup-winning goalkeeper told Sky Sports: “Foden is definitely one of them. There is no doubt.

“But I will show a little bit of bias. I would actually go for Ollie Watkins, the goals and assists he has together is more than anyone in the Premier League so far.

“There is still a long way to go and Phil Foden is definitely in the argument, there’s no doubt about that. He scored two absolutely fantastic goals on Sunday.”

Watkins needs just four more league goals to become Villa’s first player since Peter Withe in 1981 to score 20 in a top-flight campaign.

His form has earned praise from the likes of former England striker Alan Shearer, who believes the 28-year-old, only recalled to the Three Lions squad last October, is now certain to go to this summer’s European Championships as the primary back-up to Harry Kane.

“He’s on the plane. His bags are packed. He’s got his boarding pass,” he said on Saturday’s Match of the Day.

Villa boss Emery, meanwhile, branded Watkins one of the best strikers in Europe after his double helped earn Villa a 3-2 win at Luton earlier that day.

Though Watkins had hit double figures in his first two seasons at Villa following a £28million switch from Brentford in 2020, the arrival of Emery in November 2022 has helped take his game to new heights.

The brace at Kenilworth Road means he has now scored 29 goals in 51 league matches under the Spaniard and his importance to Emery’s Villa project was highlighted by the club handing him a new contract through to 2028 earlier in the season.

“The Premier League, I think, is the toughest in the world,” said Emery. “He (Watkins) is being relevant here and his work is amazing.

“As a person he is humble. He avoids the ego and it doesn’t change him. As a person he is fantastic and as a professional.

“It is difficult to find players with a better mentality than his. Then, his quality and skills are high. He wants to learn every day to increase his level playing.”

Watkins himself believes there is still room for improvement. He is just two goals behind Erling Haaland in the race to be crowned this season’s golden boot winner but when asked if he was now the most dangerous striker in the Premier League, he replied: “I feel like I can definitely improve, that is the thing.

“There are things I am learning and getting better at with each game, feeling confident. It is down to the critics to decide (who is the best).

“I have always had belief. I know when I get a chance I can finish it. That is what I am showing.”