'Best money they've spent' - Exclusive: Whelan raves over Villa ace who started v Watford

Noel Whelan has called Aston Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton the “best money” the Villans spent in the summer transfer window.

Speaking to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Leeds striker says that every team needs a quality player between the sticks and insists that is exactly what Dean Smith got from Burnley.

Heaton was almost powerless to stop Watford in the Hornets’ 3-0 win on Saturday afternoon, one of the goals coming from the penalty spot after Douglas Luiz’s foul.

Having stood out as one of the Villans’ most consistent performers in the first half of the season, Whelan says the reported £8mllion fee was some of the best money spent over the summer.

“They realised they needed a quality goalkeeper, that’s one thing every team needs in their side,” Whelan told Football Insider.

“Having a good goalkeeper between the sticks, someone that’s a leader, someone that you can depend on because every team’s going to get a chance in a game in the Premier League, it’s vitally important. 

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“It’s the best money they’ve spent, I think, is getting Tom Heaton between the sticks at Villa.” 

Heaton has taken Jed Steer’s place as Smith’s number one between the sticks, playing every minute of all but one Premier League game as a result of injury.

He has conceded 34 goals in his 19 appearances since moving from Burnley, while he has a total of 115 Premier League games under his belt.

In other Aston Villa news, Darren Bent has made a £50million transfer claim about a “ridiculous” first-team star at Villa Park.