"I'm buzzing that it's done now and I can't wait to get going." 🔥
Watch the first interview with Ollie Watkins on VillaTV or the Villa app now! 📲
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) September 9, 2020
Aston Villa is delighted to announce the signing of Ollie Watkins from Brentford.
The 24-year-old striker, who scored 26 goals in the Championship last season, has penned a five-year contract.
Head Coach Dean Smith said: ‘Ollie has developed into one of the most sought-after strikers in the country and we are looking forward to seeing him show his great qualities in an Aston Villa shirt.
‘He is a hugely determined character who has both the ability and personality to succeed at the highest level.’
Yes, Aston Villa did just pay £28m (plus £5m in add-ons) for Ollie Watkins! Granted, he was the Championship’s player of the year last season, with 26 goals to his name, but 30-odd million still feels like big, big money for a second-tier footballer. Or is it? I suppose when you consider Newcastle paid more for Joelinton, or what Chelsea paid for Kepa, it doesn’t seem steep at all – it might even give Jack Grealish a viable target player.
26 – Including play-offs, no player across the top four tiers of English football scored more league goals last season than Ollie Watkins (26). Villan. pic.twitter.com/ec6zFSq23Y
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 9, 2020
This isn’t the first young English player Villa have signed from a Championship club for a premium price this summer. They dropped £16m on Nottm Forest full-back Matty Cash, and also acquired promising 16-year-old midfielder Ben Chrisene from Exeter City (Chrisene is also English, and has featured for England at youth level) – incidentally, both Watkins and Chrisene are products of Exeter’s highly regarded academy.
Villa have opted for a transfer strategy that is based on young, homegrown talent. It’s not a cheap strategy to implement, but it should help to redefine Villa’s identity as very much one of England’s cornerstone clubs. Whether or not that is enough to keep them in the Premier League next year, who knows. I suspect they will finish a couple of places above the relegation zone, but then the league is arguably as strong as it’s ever been.