By Graham Hill
VILLA are ready to splash out £20million on Brentford’s Neal Maupay.
The striker is well known to boss Dean Smith who worked with him at his former club Brentford.
But the move is a clear sign that Villa will have no immediate opportunity to sign Tammy Abraham on a permanent basis.
The on-loan Chelsea striker scored 26 goals for Villa this season in a league campaign not seen at the club in 40 years.
But the England Under-21 forward is likely to want to try and prove himself at Stamford Bridge with Chelsea now facing a two-window transfer ban.
Now the Sun’s Graeme Bryce says that Frenchman Maupay, 22, is the man being targeted to fill that gap.
The sum would be a club record for Villa – bearing the £18million spent taking Darren Bent from Sunderland in 2011.
Much was made of that transfer being £24million but that included add-ons on top of the initial fee and the money spent was just under £20million.
Smith is already hard at work trying to secure players for the new Premier League season after Villa secured promotion by beating Derby County in the Championship Play-off final at Wembley.
It was Smith who took Maupay to Brentford and, last season, he scored 25 goals – one less than Abraham – to finish as the Championship’s third highest scorer.
Burnley, Brighton and newly promoted Sheffield United and Norwich are also interested in Maupay, But Smith has had a long term interest in the player who believes he is suited to the way the Villa boss plays his football.