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Aston Villa complete record $36 million Watkins deal

Ollie Watkins

BRENTFORD, ENGLAND - JULY 15: Ollie Watkins of Brentford reacts during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brentford and Preston North End at Griffin Park on July 15, 2020 in Brentford, England. Football Stadiums around Europe remain empty due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in all fixtures being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Alex Burstow/Getty Images)

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Ollie Watkins has completed his $36 million transfer to Aston Villa as the young striker was chased by a host of Premier League clubs.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Watkins, 24, has signed a five-year contract at Aston Villa (where he becomes their club-record signing) after a sensational season for Brentford in the Championship as he scored 26 times.

Those goals led the Bees to the playoff final but they lost to Fulham at Wembley and missed out on promotion to the Premier League. Watkins is delighted to have landed at Aston Villa and work for his former manager at Brentford, Dean Smith.

“I’m delighted,” Ollie Watkins told VillaTV. “It’s been a long time coming but I’m buzzing it’s done now, I can’t wait to get going. It’s a massive club. Dean sold it to me, really. I’m definitely excited to get back working with Dean, I’m really looking forward to it. He sold it to me as soon as I met him. I told my agent I really want to get that sorted as soon as I heard they were interested. I’m looking forward to working with him and Rich (O’Kelly), they gave me a lot of confidence playing under them at Brentford. Hopefully they can do that again now.”

Dean Smith knows Watkins well and said he is “a hugely determined character who has both the ability and personality to succeed at the highest level.”

This is a big deal for Aston Villa. So often they created so many chances to score last season but first Wesley, then Mbwana Samatta failed to convert those opportunities. Villa have also been in for Callum Wilson but he decided to move to Newcastle, so Watkins was their man.

Watkins has the ability to stretch defenses but is also a poacher inside the penalty box and has transformed his game from being a winger/attacking midfielder to someone who can play through the middle up top on his own. At Brentford he wrecked havoc last season alongside Said Benrahma and Bryan Mbeumo and he should slot in well with Trezeguet and Anwar El Ghazi.

Villa know that the likes of Jack Grealish will create plenty of chances and now they have Watkins to finish them off. If they can stay solid defensively like they did during ‘Project Restart’ as that ultimately kept them up, they now know they have a prolific striker up top.

Watkins has never played in the Premier League, so that’s a risk, but Smith knows him well and Watkins must now hit the ground running.

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