By Harry Sykes

Barnsley winger Marley Watkins has put Aston Villa on red alert after telling his club he wants to quit, it was revealed on Wednesday.

The Tykes announced on their official website that Watkins will be released when his contract expires next month.

The goal and assist machine, 26, has been in talks over a new Barnsley deal but has told the club he wants to explore other options.

This has opened the door to Villa, who have been strongly linked with a summer swoop for one of the outstanding players in this season’s Championship.

The Daily Mail claimed last month that Villa have made an initial enquiry for Watkins, who has contributed to a remarkable 19 league goals this season, after tracking his potential availability for months.

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Sky Sports’ transfer centre regularly plugs its Football Whispers section, which claims that the wide midfielder is the likeliest Villa Park arrival.

The dynamic right-winger will be one of the most coveted players in the Championship when his contract expires at Barnsley at the end of June.

London-born Watkins has made a huge impression at Barnsley since joining from Inverness in the summer of 2015.

The former non-league player has provided considerable evidence of his late blooming by ripping up the Championship with 10 goals and nine assists in 42 league matches this season.

In other Aston Villa transfer news, the club have been installed hot favourites to sign a 25-goal striker ripping up one of the world’s toughest leagues.

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