'Duran could be the Watkins insurance policy'

Aston v Brighton fixture graphic
Aston v Brighton fixture graphic

The way Aston Villa first encountered Colombian striker Jhon Duran was somewhat of a happy accident. Villa had dispatched a scout to the United States to observe the then-Chicago Fire and USA youth goalkeeper, Gabriel Slonina.

With Emi Martinez rapidly gaining prominence, a substantial investment in Slonina might not have appeared like a prudent move. However, it wasn't an unproductive journey, as the scout identified a promising Colombian powerhouse of a striker, built beyond his teenage years.

Despite Duran's price tag of $18m, plus $4m in add-ons, Villa fans had mostly regarded the 19-year-old as one for the future. They had yearned for another striker in the previous transfer window for the immediate present, but none arrived. In fact, Villa even transferred their prodigal striking son, Cameron Archer, to Sheffield United.

What would occur if Villa's primary striker, Ollie Watkins, were to suffer an injury or enter a lean period, as he has now, with just one goal in his last 12 Premier League appearances?

While Watkins remains indispensable to Villa's style of play, he needs goals quickly. He has been goalless for 413 Premier League minutes this season, while Duran, despite not having a single start, has notched up two goals in just 56 minutes.

Duran's explosive half-volley against Crystal Palace undoubtedly introduced the young Colombian international with a bang. Comparisons to Christian Benteke, who was twice the player at Villa, then he was anywhere else, have already been drawn by Villa fans.

It appears that Villa may have stumbled upon their much-needed Watkins insurance policy and an alternative source of goals.

In this case, it seems that sometimes the best solutions are the ones you weren't actively searching for.

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