Aston Villa are on the verge of a club-record £28m deal, plus add-ons, for the Brentford striker Ollie Watkins. Villa and their manager, Dean Smith, identified the 24-year-old as one of their primary targets and believe they have fought off competition from Premier League rivals to land the winner of last season’s Championship player of the year award.
Watkins, who worked with Smith at Brentford, is understood to be keen on reuniting with his former manager. He trained with Brentford on Tuesday but is expected to undergo a medical with Villa in the next 24 hours. He scored 26 goals as Brentford reached last season’s play-off final, spearheading the attack after the £20m departure of Neal Maupay to Brighton. Exeter City of League Two, who sold Watkins to Brentford for £1.8m in 2017, are thought to have a £15% sell-on clause.
Villa have paid £14m to sign Matty Cash from Nottingham Forest and are also keen on the Bournemouth striker Joshua King after missing out on Callum Wilson, who joined Newcastle, but are yet to make a bid. The Brentford winger Saïd Benrahma is another player of interest but Brentford would demand a similar fee.
Brentford were open to selling Watkins at the right price after signing the Peterborough striker Ivan Toney, the top scorer in League One last season, for an initial £6m.