By Graham Hill
DEAN Smith is expected to try and get the bulk of Villa’s transfer activity done over the next two weeks.
The Villa boss has his targets lined up – now it is a case of trying to negotiate deals to bring them in.
Said Benrahma continues to be high on Smith’s wish list, according to the Express & Star.
Former Brentford boss Smith is obviously familiar with Bees winger Benrahma – and hopes to take him to Villa Park despite a £20million price tag.
Villa feel that is a fee that can be brought down even though the London club are currently playing hardball and in no mood to let their players leave on the cheap.
Notttingham Forest’s Joe Lolley is also on Villa’s list but it could be difficult to prise him out of the City Ground.
There will also be players exiting Villa Park which should also raise cash for transfers.
But the spending power of owners Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris also means that Villa are under no pressure to sell despite breaking their transfer record to bring in Brazilian striker Wesley from Bruges for £22million.
The last time Villa set a new record for signing a player was when Darren Bent arrived in 2011 – but Ashley Young and Stewart Downing were sold to pay for that the following summer under Randy Lerner’s ownership.
Villa have also confirmed the £3million signing of defender Kortney Hause from Wolves.
Smith is still confident of signing Jack Butland from Stoke in a deal that would cost around £20million – but Cardiff’s Neil Etheridge is also a possibility.
The Express & Star also says Villa will make a ‘formal bid’ for highly-rated Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips before the end of this month.
And Villa will be hoping to finally seal Tyrone Mings’ move from Bournemouth after a hugely successful loan spell at the heart of the back four.