Villa leading the race to sign Brentford striker Watkins
Aston Villa are ready to move for £25 million-rated Ollie Watkins after Brentford’s failure to reach the Premier League.
Villa, Crystal Palace and Sheffield United are all interested in the Brentford striker, who is poised to leave this summer following the west London club’s 2-1 defeat in the Championship play-off final.
Watkins, 24, was the joint leading scorer in the Championship with 26 goals (thanks to his play-off strike) and Villa, who are managed by former Brentford head coach Dean Smith, are now serious contenders to offer him a route to the top flight.
Smith was in charge at Brentford when Watkins (right) was signed from Exeter in July 2017 and believes he could flourish in the Premier League, with his ability to play both centrally and out wide seen as key qualities. Brentford will demand a record fee for a Championship player of around £25 million, after losing in extra time to
Fulham at Wembley on Tuesday. It is understood there is no release clause in Watkins’s contract and the fee will need to eclipse the current record of £21million paid by Leicester to Norwich for James Maddison in June 2018.
After the game, Thomas Frank, Brentford’s head coach, said: “I must say it [players leaving] is not my biggest concern right now.
“Nobody knows what is going to happen. I know one thing: we will have a very, very strong side going
Alex Neil’s side went straight back down, losing five of their final six league games, despite some heavy investment in the January transfer window.