By Phil Jennings
TALK of Neal Maupay making a move to Villa was stepped up on Wednesday when the Frenchman was left out of Brentford’s pre-season friendly with Norwich.
Maupay is another player well known to boss Dean Smith from his time at Griffin Park and it would be no surprise if he made a bee-line for him once more.
But Brentford rare the 22-year-old at £20million – and as with winger Said Benrahma – the Londoners do not want to let him go.
Maupay has been linked with West Ham, Brighton and Sheffield United this summer and a Premier League move looks on the cards.
But Chief Executive Christian Purslow told fans at a Q&A session in the USA before the friendly with Minnesota United that Villa could be the go-to club outside the top six this summer.
There is clearly ambition being shown at boardroom level and lucrative contracts too.
If Maupay gets a choice, it looks likely he would want to play for Smith again.
Brentford boss Thomas Frank admitted that the player had been absent from the friendly because of the speculation surrounding Maupay’s future.
He told the Bees’ official website: “Maupay, we know the speculation around him so we thought it was best to focus on the guys we took to Norwich.”
Maupay has been on Smith’s wanted list all summer but it was never going to be an easy task to prise him away from Brentford.