Lineker and Shearer agree Premier League’s fourth top scorer isn’t elite striker

Ollie Watkins linked with Old Trafford move

Ollie Watkins might be enjoying his most fruitful start to a campaign in an Aston Villa shirt but former star strikers Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer insist he is not an ‘elite forward’. The 27-year-old has found the back of the net seven times in eleven appearances so far including a hat-trick during Aston Villa’s 6-1 trashing of Brighton on Saturday.

The trio of strikes brings his Premier League tally up to 4 and fires him up the scoring charts to No 4 in England’s top-flight, joint with Odsonne Edouard, Evan Ferguson, Hwang Hee-Chan, Alexander Isak, Bryan Mbeumo, Bukayo Saka and Callum Wilson.

But despite only being outgunned by Jarrod Bowen, Son Heung-Min and Erling Haaland his finishing has been called into question by Lineker, Shearer and Micah Richards. “I like him, he’s certainly very willing and he’s always going to try and get in behind,” said Shearer on the Rest is Football Podcast.

“I don’t think he’s a great finisher, I think sometimes his technique lets him down, but he’s always going to get you in and around, in between 10 and 20 goals, which for a Premier League club is exactly what you need and want. I don’t think he’s elite but he’s certainly in that next level down.”

Richards added: “He’s probably not the most natural of finishers, and I always ask the question, can you improve that and we’ve talked about the technical aspect of shooting but is something got to do with the way you slow down before you shoot as well? Because a lot of the strikes I see of Watkins, he’s almost fluffing sometimes the shots because he’s rushing it. I just mean how can he get into the next level?”

Lineker responded: “It’s a hard one, because we both played up front and we’ve got some decent records in terms of international and domestic football. But I think it’s a natural thing, I think it’s a calmness under pressure, I think it’s to be cold at the right moment and not to get too emotional.

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“It’s instant decision making and I think that’s almost a natural talent. The one thing that you can really work on a lot is obviously you can practice your finishing. But I think what you can really think about mentally is your movement and how you get yourself into spaces and I don’t think that many strikers understand about attacking a space, rather than wait to see where the ball’s going to go and then attacking the ball.”

He continued: “Calmness under pressure, I’m not sure you can learn that. You’ve either got that or you’ve not and making the right decision on a finish, I think, comes with confidence, experience and calmness.”

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