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Aston Villa prepare opening bid for Brentford's Ollie Watkins

Aston Villa are preparing an opening bid for Brentford striker Ollie Watkins, though they are likely to face competition for his signature.

A new striker is top of Villa's shopping list this transfer window and manager Dean Smith, who signed Watkins when he was Brentford manager, believes the 24-year-old would be a big success in the Premier League.

Sheffield United and Crystal Palace are also interested in Watkins but Brentford want a deal worth £25m, which is likely to dissuade the Blades from making a move.

Sky Sports News has been told Watkins is keen to work again with his former boss Smith at Villa Park.

Brentford are braced for offers for a number of their best players, notably Watkins and their other star forward Said Benrahma, after missing out on promotion to Fulham in the play-off final.

Smith is also a big admirer of Benrahma and is said to want to also make an addition on the left-wing this summer.

Villa need to address their shortage of goals, which almost saw them relegated after one season in the Premier League. Other than the three relegated clubs, only three other sides in the top division had a worse scoring record than Villa.

Summer transfer window - key dates and times

The summer transfer window will run for 10 weeks from July 27 and close at 11pm on October 5.

A domestic-only window for trades between the Premier League and EFL then runs from October 5 and closes on Friday October 16 at 5pm. Follow all the news and analysis on Sky Sports News and across Sky Sports' digital platforms, including with our dedicated Transfer Centre blog.