Aston Villa are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress in talks to sign Ollie Watkins from Brentford, who have have agreed a £10m deal to sign Peterborough striker Ivan Toney.
A new striker is Villa boss Dean Smith’s overwhelming priority in this transfer window, followed by a winger. Watkins’ goalscoring record in the Championship, and his versatility in being able to also play in a wide position, fits Villa’s profile perfectly.
Villa’s hierarchy are keen to tie up a deal soon, so that Watkins could acquaint himself with his new team-mates in pre-season, before the Premier League kick off on September 12.
But with the vast competition for the 24-year-old, Villa fear they are in the middle of an auction, and are reluctant to get involved in a bidding war for the player, who has just been named Championship player of the season.
Brentford’s deal to sign Toney could now allow Watkins to move to the Premier League with Sheffield United and Fulham among several clubs also interested in the front man.
As things stand, the likely asking price of £25m for Watkins could be too high for the Blades, but is affordable for Villa – if they’re prepared to rein in their expectations for new recruits in other positions.
Toney told Sky Sports News earlier this month he wanted to play in the Premier League, but no concrete offers had emerged.
At least three other clubs were interested in the League One striker, one of those was Scottish champions Celtic.
Furthermore, Sky Sports News has reported that Villa are also keen on Watkins’ Brentford attacking team-mate Said Benrahma, also valued at £25m, who excelled last season as Thomas Frank’s side reached the Championship play-off final.
So far in the transfer window, Villa have brought in Ben Chrisene from Exeter City for an undisclosed fee, the club were keen on signing Aaron Ramsdale before the England U21 international goalkeeper re-joined Sheffield United from Bournemouth in an £18.5m deal.
Meanwhile, Craig Shakespeare has been appointed as the club’s new assistant head coach, while Johan Lange was named as the club’s new sporting director following the sacking of Jesus Garcia Pitarch.
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.