EXCLUSIVE

Noel Whelan has claimed Leeds United have kept tabs on Brentford striker Neal Maupay as Aston Villa ready a mammoth bid for him this summer.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the ex-United striker and lifelong fan, who covers all their matches as a pundit, explained he is a big admirer of the in-demand Frenchman, 22.

Football Insider revealed earlier this week that Villa are set to submit a bid in excess of £15million for Maupay following his goalscoring exploits for Brentford last season.

The newly-promoted Premier League club have had one offer for the prolific striker rejected but are readying another move for a player who has proved his worth in the Championship.

“Maupay is a very good player and goalscorer who has the attributes and attitude of a top centre-forward,” Whelan told Football Insider. “He can hold the ball up, has an eye for goal and instinct in the six-yard box. He is aggressive, too, and I like that in a striker.

“He is a dangerous player, no question about that. There have been reports that Villa will need to pay £20million to get him. That is a lot of money for someone unproven in the Premier League. Can he play at that level?

“I’m not surprised not clubs want him. Leeds have looked at him, as well. Villa have the funds to not just buy him, but also pay him high wages. When you get in the Premier League, you have the money to get this type of player.”

Maupay was as prolific as Villa’s loan star Tammy Abraham last season, scoring 28 goals from 49 matches in all competitions as well as laying on nine assists.

He has made his mark in England since signing from St Etienne two years ago, when he was brought to Griffin Park by their ex-boss Dean Smith, now in charge at Villa Park.

In other Leeds United news, it can be REVEALED that the club have been handed a major boost in bid to sign 21-year-old top of Bielsa’s transfer list.