Aston Villa Target Ollie Watkins’ Transfer Value Rapidly Inflates and Other Bee Concerns

Hyper Bee Inflation

When the Daily Telegraph first broke Aston Villa’s alleged interest in Brentford forward Ollie Watkins, the headline transfer fee for the Bees forward was for £18m. Within a click, when you got to the story, suddenly Watkins fee was now mooted at £25m.

£7m inflation in a click.

Would Villa really break their transfer record for a Championship striker?

Would they consider dropping £50m for a Brentford double whammy of Watkins and Saïd Benrahma?

You would think based on the principled approach Villa took with Brentford last summer in the negotiations of both the potential Benrahma and Neal Maupay deals, that Christian Purslow and co will not be too impressed about breaking the club’s record transfer with such players.

It’s exactly why the likes of both Johan Lange (Sporting Director) and Rob MacKenzie (Player Recruitment) have been brought into the club. So they can potentially identify such players earlier and get them in, before the likes of Brentford do and profiteer on them. It’ll certainly be more savvy than gambling on inflated prices.

Ollie Good Fit

Ollie Watkins is a decent player and has blossomed since being switched to a more central role last season. He’s a smart finisher (with both his head and feet), has clear attacking intent and keen instinct. The main attraction for Villa would be his proven versatility to play on either flank too.

The Brentford striker certainly fits the bill for Villa, but you have to guard against wishful thinking in terms of how great he’d be. Despite a decent haul of 26 goals this season in the Championship, there are question marks regarding that actually offering Villa any guarantees.

Ross McCormack had a tremendous and consistent scoring record at Championship level and Jonathan Kodjia had a couple of notable seasons in the second tier, but both offered little in the top tier. Indeed, McCormack never kicked a ball in the Premier League.

Villa have already been burnt before buying a hyped Brentford striker too. Anybody remember Scott Hogan?

Performance Issues

Villa need to know they are buying potential top level match winners in attacking positions and this is where a £25m fee becomes a question mark for such a player.

Brentford goalkeeper David Raya was previously being mooted to be a target for Manchester City and Arsenal for £10m, but it would be a surprise if both teams would follow up any interest after seeing the keeper make a fatal area at a vital time on the big stage of Wembley Stadium.

It is right not to judge players on just one game, but smarter Premier League clubs will take note of how lower division players play when the pressure is on and the stakes are high.

Brentford ultimately let themselves down beyond just their trip to Wembley. The Bees had automatic promotion in their control in the closing stages of the Championship season. With West Brom winless in their last four games, Brentford simply had to beat either Stoke City or Barnsley in their final two games to win promotion. They bottled it against two teams in the relegation mix, with both Watkins and Benrahma disappointing, when they were needed to seal the deal.

Villa need players they can rely on in the big moments and games, so while it’s not a deal breaker, as they’d improve Villa, it’s a concern when you start to justify such big price tags.

Waiting Game?

Leeds United and Crystal Palace are also meant to be in the mix for Watkins, whom Palace was allegedly interested in last summer at around the £10m mark.

Villa had baulked at the price of Benrahma in the last summer transfer window, so it’ll be interesting to see how they feel about the same player for between £25m and £30m.

There’s also supposed interest in Benrahma from the likes of West Ham, Leeds, Crystal Palace and Chelsea, but it’ll be interesting to see if any club rushes in at that price. They’ll perhaps wait until the market begins to take shape and the agent press price leaks and media hype cools.

Much has been made of Brentford’s moneyball and data approach, but it’s the attribute that can’t be reduced to statistics that they fell victim to at Wembley. If their team had the same desire, character and tenacity as Fulham’s Joe Bryan, when everything was on the line, then the result would have been different. But data analysis struggles to quantify player’s human and mental attributes.

Such transfer fees that are being spoken about for the Brentford pair would warrant corresponding big wages, but how motivated does that leave the player when they join?

While it’s a generalisation, your McCormack and Hogan’s haven’t shown the same commitment to Villa as players like John McGinn and Conor Hourihane, who came in at a fraction of the price.

When it comes to trying to broker deals for Watkins or/and Benrahma, while clubs are now in position to take advantage of the Bee’s failure to get promoted, Villa have to be careful not to get stung in the process.



  1. I acknowledge that it is far easier to simply label a comment as making “an excuse” but I should be interested to know exactly what and why you disagree with my observations .
    So we are in with a another chance next season ” as the Championship will be missing the so called ‘ big teams ‘ unfortunately this is counteracted by the fact that we will not be getting our ‘nailed on’ 4- 6 points from Villa & Fulham.

  2. We will and you will pay us loads and not understand how to get the best from them and they will flop and you will go down and have to borrow Chelsea’s centre forward to get back up again lol is that the sort of answer you we re e provoking for .also we came 3rd not 6th and everyone knows play offs are a lottery.

  3. So Brentford bottled the final few games ? In a league widely regarded as a league where anyone can beat anyone on their day they firstly lost one nil at Stoke. Stoke I believe still had parachute money and on paper a very strong squad and whilst under achieved over the course of the season, did I believe win 6 of their last 8 home games, Yes Brentford were not at their best in this game but if the VAR was in use this game would most likely have a very different outcome.
    Then they lost by one goal to Barnsley. Who did not think that Barnsley were not the better side when they lost 1 -0 to Leeds a couple of games prior ? and Barnsley had also taken their fair share of points against both W.B.A, & Fulham during the season.
    They fully deserved to progress against a much improved/in form Swansea.
    Yes Fulham were the better side on they day but they certainly had the benefit of lenient refereeing and a dubious use of playing the advantage.
    So now we have delusional Fans from Leeds, Fulham & Swansea oblivious to the fact that they relied heavily on borrowed players whilst ‘little old Brentford ‘ used only Brentford players.
    I doubt Villa will get Benrama or Watkins or if they do they will most likely not get the best out of them anyway.

    • Unfortunately, those who do, do. Those who don’t make excuses. You had a very good season, but when it came to the crunch, it’s wise not to lose four of your last five games (including the play-offs). You had a glorious chance last season. Hopefully for you, you’ll get another chance next season, as the Championship will be missing stand out so-called ‘big teams’.

  4. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I respect that, my opinion however without wanting to be too pessimistic is that we have to let Wesley, Samatta, and Davis go they are not PL standard and we can’t take the risk of another relegation battle, we were toothless all season and that has to be our top priority as for Benrahma and Watkins at 50 m sorry but I don’t see it, now we’re being linked with Benteke again and while I think he would make a decent back up player at 8 m he is definitely not good enough to be considered our main striker and that’s my biggest worry, I admit I don’t know who why or where we will get the quality that we need, so it has to be left with our new recruitment team, all we can do is hope that we’ve learnt the lesson, I also think we have to get on with this and not miss the boat.

  5. As some have already pointed out, £18m was never something muted by Brentford FC, just some nonsense touted around by click bait journalism. After spending £130m on the Villa squad and survive by the skin of your teeth, what does that say about its recruitment strategy? I believe had you spent the money on Maupay (who’s had a great season for Brighton) instead of Wesley, you probably would have comfortably finished mid table this season. ~£50m for two quality front men who know each other’s game inside out and who have a cordial relationship with the manager represents good value for money. Keep paying us the big bucks and we’ll continue to feed your team. And when our replacements bed in for a tenth of the cost and perform to the highest levels, we’ll sell them on to Villa at the end of the season, with our blessings, to replace those failed other big money signings from so called “bigger” clubs

    • Not 100% sure Maupay would have been a success at Villa, the way we play, however would have been a useful addition. Wesley would have probably outscored Maupay’s haul for Brighton, if he didn’t get injured. Losing Heaton and Wesley in January for the season was the main dent in our recruitment strategy to be fair. Also, we have a new recruitment team now, which will aim to get talent in earlier.

  6. Very good piece; you are so right, BFC supporters are so unrealistic in their sweeping the abject failures in the three promotion games alluded to, under the carpet; they always seem to be in denial over failure, which doesn’t help the necessary honest appraisal of the cause of the failure and a move towards solving those shortcomings for a successful future.
    Watkins is a 100% loyal and genuine player; he had no service at all in the final.
    Benrahma, is a player I would not rate in that way; moody, selfish and chucked the towel in during the final, after a little knock on the mouth upset him.

  7. Really, losing the play-off final and having yet another season in the championship is sucess?

  8. As of strikers,i think we should retain Samatta and Wesley. No need to ugrade imo. Thye are just examples of many players coming to the Premier League and taking time to adapt. Another preseason under their belt would suit them nicely. Edouard from Celtic?No thanks. The SPL is a joke of a league quality wise.

  9. We should retain our core players like Luiz, McGinn, maybe Jack too. Though i would no be too sad if he leaves. If United pay the 80 million or even 70 we should let him go.
    I agree with the writer that we should not consider tha likes of Watkins and Benrahma. Brentford like to profiteer as a transfer strategy. That is exactly why Lange was brought.
    Imo, we should upgrade our wings. Josip Brekalo from Wolfsurg and Ismaila Sarr from Watford i think are excellent players.

  10. Something to notice on his goals, hes often getting service from wide, something we at Villa arent able to do, Trez and El Ghazi are awful wide players. Yes we need a good goal scorer but need wide players as well to supply the ammo, and Jack in the middle will complete the attacking threat.

  11. Brentford no longer do ‘fire sales’ (as happened when they were in League One?. There was NEVER a Price tag/ release clause of £18 Million for Ollie Watkins – Journalists Fake News. His recently signed contract did NOT involve a release clause at all. Thus the £7 million ‘inflation’ rate referred to in this article is, by definition, factually incorrect. Perhaps the Author of this piece could explain why Watkins and Benhrama would want to join a club full of sub standard Premier League players who only survived the season because of a technology failure. As a club, Brentford no longer sell players cheaply and if you or the Villa board think that these two players can’t ‘hack it’ at premier league level why make any offer at all. We, at Brentford, really don’t care.
    nb. Your MOMS contributor says your are after players with a ‘Winning Mentality’ Judging by Villa’s performances last season you are going to need one hell of a lot of players.

    • To answer your question to why Watkins would want to join Villa…I could throw in some historical stuff like trophies etc, but let’s stick to £££, Premier League, joining a team that will evolve next season, and the wish not to rot away in the Championship at a feeder club. FYI – I don’t care if they come to Villa or not. The winning mentality is starting to return at Villa, thanks for your concern, at least in the last two seasons we’ve finished off the season successfully.

  12. I find it incredibly amusing that you write you can’t judge a player on one game while proceeding to judge them on three. So is 2.5 when the sample size is large enough?

    • You failed to understand the line…’but smarter Premier League clubs will take note of how lower division players play when the pressure is on and the stakes are high.’ Considering those three games were the best and only examples of Brentford playing high stakes games (i.e. win any of them and you’ve just earned your club £170m+ or whatever it is to be in the PL), they failed 100% of the time!

  13. I’m in “wait and see” mode. The additions to the backroom staff so far appear impressive. Lange’s record at Copenhagen, and Mackenzie’s at Leicester, in regards to player recruitment, far exceed our own in the last few years. And Shakespeare’s addition to the coaching staff can only be a huge boost. Last summer’s turnover of players was necessary but ultimately uninspiring with a few notable exceptions. We now have a terrific opportunity to build on our last gasp survival. Let’s wait and see how the new team move us forward.

  14. Personally I think at the prices muted they are too much of a risk at the end of the day they are both Championship players with no PL experience and we’ve been there before in Wesley and Samatta not saying they wouldn’t step up but at what cost, I really think it has to be left to our new recruitment team to show what they can do, but I think to stay in the PL we have to be ruthless and loose several players including Wesley Samatta Davis, Lansbury and a few more, this is a massive problem not easily solved but we simply have to get it right, we played all last season with little or no goal threat and did it ever cost us, it’s a bit concerning that DS seems bent on Brentford players but as I see it we should be aiming much higher. All that we can hope for is that we have learnt our lessons

  15. Unfortunately, most of our targets carry inflated fees or, at least, reportedly do. Quite how journalists know accurately what goes on behind closed doors in another thing mind.

    We are not blameless either if the reporters are to be believed. £80M for Grealish? I ask you…

    I actually do think Watkins is likely to be worth the gamble, given reports on his personality, relative humbleness and his versatility – if we can’t get an effective tune out of him through the centre, he does offer value on the flanks.

    Benrahma, well I am less convinced, although that could be coloured by two relatively duff buys in Trezeguet and, more so, El Ghazi. My worry lies with the thought of ‘more of the same’, perhaps a notch up.

    Those names touted with Premier League experience don’t come cheap either. In most cases, their records are far from convincing too. Will Origi or Iheanacho step up if they have more first team exposure? Will Callum Wilson or Josh King repeat their sole good Bournemouth seasons PL seasons with us? Or will King Edouard of the Scottish realm prove himself to be more than just another potato?

    All are gambles really. You take your (calculated?) choice and hope it comes off.

    I fancy we will purchase a couple of attacking players, but I hope we also display some focus on moving a few on – ideally for a fee. Now that would make a change.

  16. What a load of tosh. Benrahma and Watkins are too good for Villa and only if they leave Brentford they will go to a bigger club(s). You clearly do not understand Brentford’s methodology in sourcing players, it’s the reason we are so successful in unearthing hidden gems. We concentrate just as much on their character/ family / personal aptitude as we do their football skills. The mantra around the training ground is “no dickheads” that’s why an underrated team on a small budget have been so successful!!

    • Your ‘successful’ we’d consider a failure. You’re obviously not concentrating enough on character, are you? I was surprised you bottled automatic promotion at the end, but having seen you do that, there was no surprise when you lost at Wembley. We’re after players with a winning mentality, let us know if you source any…

Comments are closed.