Exclusive: Aston Villa close to signing striker for £20m+ fee after breakthrough
Aston Villa are closing in on the signing of Brentford striker Ollie Watkins after a breakthrough in negotiations, Football Insider can reveal.
The forward is keen to link up again with his former Bees manager Dean Smith and extensive discussions have been held between the two clubs.
A recruitment source has told Football Insider that Villa have told Brentford they are willing to pay a fee of more than £20m to seal the deal for Watkins.
They are also ready to hand the prolific front man, 24, a five-year contract that will more than treble his salary at the west Londoners.
Villa have made it a priority to sign at least one proven goalscorer after completing the signing of Matty Cash for £12m rising to a potential £16m earlier this week.
Brentford value Watkins at the £25m mark but the final fee is expected to be short of that, even when add-ons are taken in account.
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It will be a major coup for Villa and their manager Smith if they can sign one of his former star pupils.
Leeds United, Sheffield United, Leicester City, Crystal Palace and Brighton have all registered their interest in Watkins this window.
Smith took the forward to Griffin Park in 2017 from Exeter City and helped mould him into the most feared striker in the Championship.
Watkins scored 25 goals in 46 Championship games for Brentford last season as well as a further goal in the play-offs.
In total, he has banged in 49 goals from 143 Bees matches as well as provided 17 assists.