Alex McLeish has claimed Dean Smith would have been adamant Aston Villa would not miss out on Ollie Watkins and hailed the striker as a “sensation”.
Speaking exclusively to Football Insider assistant editor Russell Edge, the former Villa manager is in no doubt that manager Smith was the architect of the club-record signing.
Villa confirmed the capture of the 24-year-old on Wednesday of last in a deal costing an initial £28million that could rise to £33m including add-ons.
The striker was a standout in the Championship last season with 25 goals during the regular campaign and another strike in Brentford’s ill-fated play-off campaign.
McLeish believes that Watkins has the pedigree to take his scoring form in the English second tier into the top division.
He told Football Insider: “I wondered how long it would take for Dean to go back to his old club and pick up some of the players.
“He had missed out on a couple, and that maybe led to the frustration in Dean’s mind. I’m sure he would have felt, ‘I’m sure I’m not going to miss out on the next one’.
“Watkins has been a sensation, let’s face it, he is a sensation. This guy has shown he’s a player of real quality and a brilliant finisher. He’s definitely looked the business.
“He nearly carried Brentford to the Premier League, which would have been a remarkable achievement.”
Ollie Watkins: Announced. ✅
Say hello to our new striker! 🙌#WatkinsAnnounced
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 9, 2020
Villa’s centre-forwards struggled to score regularly last season.
Wesley Moraes banged in just six goals before breaking down with a knee injury at the turn of the year and Keinan Davis and January signing Mbwana Samatta struggled to find the back of the net.