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Ollie Watkins: Aston Villa close to deal for Brentford striker for club-record fee

Villa agree fee in principle of £28m and potential further £5m in add-ons; deal could eclipse the £22m spent for Wesley in 2019

Last Updated: 08/09/20 7:24pm

Dean Smith wants a reunion with Ollie Watkins at Villa Park

Dean Smith wants a reunion with Ollie Watkins at Villa Park

Aston Villa are close to agreeing a club-record deal for Brentford striker Ollie Watkins.

The two clubs have agreed a fee in principle of £28m plus a potential further £5m in add-ons, which would eclipse the £22m Villa spent for striker Wesley Moraes from Club Brugge last year.

However, other clubs remain interested in Watkins, who scored 26 goals for the Bees last season as they missed out on promotion in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final against Fulham.

A £33m fee would also mean a club-record sale for Brentford – the west London club’s current record sale is Neal Maupay’s transfer to Brighton for £20m last year – and also for League Two club Exeter City, who could cash in a seven-figure sum as they retain a sell-on clause on their former academy product.

Ollie Watkins finished the season as the league's top scorer with 26 goals - joint with Aleksandar Mitrovic

Ollie Watkins finished the season as the league’s top scorer with 26 goals – joint with Aleksandar Mitrovic

The Villans moved for the 24-year-old after Bournemouth rejected their bid for Callum Wilson, who eventually joined Newcastle.

A new striker is top of Villa’s shopping list this transfer window and manager Dean Smith, who signed Watkins when he was Brentford manager, believes the 24-year-old would be a big success in the Premier League.

Brentford are braced for offers for a number of their best players, notably Watkins and their other star forward Said Benrahma, with Sky Sports News exclusively revealing last month that the club want in excess of £50m for the pair.

Sky Sports News has been told Watkins is keen to work again with his former boss Smith. The latter is also a big admirer of Benrahma and is said to want to also make an addition on the left-wing this summer.

Villa have already completed the signing of full-back Matty Cash on a five-year deal from Nottingham Forest which could be worth up to £16m.

The rise of Ollie Watkins

2:34
We look at some of Ollie Watkins’ best strikes for the Bees

We look at some of Ollie Watkins’ best strikes for the Bees

“I am a big admirer of Ollie, I like him very much,” Paul Tisdale, Watkins’ former manager at Exeter City, told Sky Sports.

“There are so many players out there with great ability who have a bad attitude but Ollie has got everything. He has the ability and he has the perfect attitude. He has the perfect personality really.

“But when he arrived on the scene as a young professional, he was no different to any other young player, he was thinking about what he was going to do when he received the ball.

“Most of the game is off the ball. It is what happens on the turnover or when the ball goes out of play. Are you standing in the right place at the right time and thinking the right thing?

“A football player might only touch the ball 20 times in a game so where is he moving for the rest of the game? What is he thinking? How does he visualise what is coming next?

With Ollie, it was something very specific and something very technical in terms of his application of the game. He had to work out where he was going to fit into the game. I call it psychological repositioning.”

Find out more about the psychological repositioning of Ollie Watkins

Analysis: Villa desperate for Watkins signing

Ollie Watkins scored 26 goals in the Championship last season

Ollie Watkins scored 26 goals in the Championship last season

Sky Sports News reporter Dharmesh Sheth told The Transfer Show:

“Watkins really came to the fore last season and started in all 46 of Brentford’s Championship matches, scoring 25 goals. He also scored in the play-off semi-final victory over Swansea but Brentford missed out on the Premier League when they lost in the final to Fulham. Watkins was also voted as the EFL and Championship player of the year.

“This news is also potentially good news for Exeter because some reports suggest they stand to make up to 20 per cent of any profit that Brentford make on the deal.

“Villa, for their part, will be desperate for this to go through, not only because there is competition for Watkins’ signature but if you look at what happened to Villa last season in the Premier League, they scored 41 goals in 38 games and only six of those came from forwards – five from Wesley and one from Samatta. So they’ll be hoping that Watkins will come in a reproduce the form he’s shown for Brentford in the Championship.

“There’s still a little bit of a way to go on this deal but Villa increasingly confident now that they can get Watkins to Villa Park.”

Summer transfer window – key dates and times

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports’ digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.

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