Transfer fees of £28 m rarely raise eyebrows in modern times — but Aston Villa ‘s purchase of Brentford’s Ollie Watkins did just that.
Watkins, 24, could end up costing £33m by the time add-ons are taken into consideration.
For a player who was only converted to a central striker last summer and has yet to play top-flight football, it is a large sum of cash.
But Villa boss Dean Smith believes the man he labelled as his ‘No1 target’ having previously worked with him at Brentford is worth every penny.
Smith said: “Ollie has developed into one of the most sought-after strikers in the country and we’re looking forward to seeing him show his great qualities in a Villa shirt.
“He is a hugely determined character who has both the ability and personality to succeed at the highest level.”
Unsurprisingly, Watkins jumped at the chance to team up again with his old manager.
He said: “I’m so excited to join Villa and to reunite with Dean as my head coach.
“I’m really looking forward to it. He sold it to me as soon as I met him.”
The money Villa splashed on Watkins not only makes him their record signing, it also represents the biggest fee Brentford have received and the most ever spent on a Championship player.
Those records suggest Watkins ticks all the boxes as a Premier League star in waiting. Notching 26 goals in his first season as an out-and-out striker was also no mean feat.
That total was reached courtesy of finishes with his favoured right foot, left foot and head — suggesting he is adept at scoring different types of goals.
Having spent the first two seasons of his career at Brentford out on the wing, Watkins has pace and tricks aplenty up his sleeve.
But it was his hold-up play and desire to press from the front that team-mates at Griffin Park often talked about so highly.
Despite being under 6ft, Watkins uses his frame intelligently to stop defenders stealing the ball and brings others into play.
Having graduated from Exeter’s academy, the switch to Villa completes somewhat of a rapid rise for the highly-rated forward.
Back in 2014-15, he spent time on loan at semi-professional Weston-super-Mare. Next week, he will be in line to make his debut for a club with the European Cup listed among their honours when Villa travel to Burton in the Carabao Cup.
How times change.
Ollie Watkins facts and stats
Former clubs: Brentford (143 apps, 49 goals), Exeter (78 apps, 26 goals)
Transfer fee: £28m