Aston Villa manager Dean Smith

Michael Brown insists that Ollie Watkins is a “big signing” for Aston Villa but that he must improve on his play-off performance last season.

The former Premier League midfielder, speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, admits he was not impressed by the 24-year-old as he covered Brentford’s defeat to Fulham at Wembley at the start of August.

Villa confirmed the capture of Watkins on Wednesday after Football Insider revealed they had agreed a £28million transfer deal with the Bees.

The Villans also sealed a deal for former Nottingham Forest defender Matty Cash earlier in the window.

Brown believes that Dean Smith is trying to improve his side with players who are proven quantities in Britain but insists Watkins failed to shine in his last outing.

Brown told Football Insider: “It’s a lot of money but we’re seeing this type of figure on the regular for a signing in the Premier League, at Championship levels as well.

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“He’s proven in the Championship, the manager knows him very, very well. I covered him and thought he was very, very quiet when all eyes were on him in the play-off final but you always felt he was going to end up in the Premier League.

“It’s a big signing to a club that you would say have hopefully learned many lessons from last year, they’re still trying to improve at a more sensible rate and I think they’ll be excited by it.

“They were in for Callum Wilson, we’ve seen Cash at right-back, they’re trying to improve and maybe with players who are more of a known than an unknown.” 

Watkins netted 25 goals for Brentford last season as they let their chances of automatic promotion slip through their fingers before their play-off heartbreak.

He was signed for the Bees by Villa Smith and scored 15 times in 60 appearances during their time together at Griffin Park.

In other news, Whelan has dropped an unexpected Aston Villa striker claim.