No club breathed a bigger sigh of relief when the Premier League season ended than Aston Villa.
After a relegation battle that rumbled on until the final minutes of the season, the Villains did just enough to keep their heads above water.
Dean Smith’s side looked at one stage that they might be fighting a losing battle, but the ability to dig in during the final weeks of the season – as well as the form of Jack Grealish – saw them get themselves over the line.
But there’s no time for patting themselves on the back as attention turns to next season.
The Premier League starts again in just over 5 weeks’ time and that means that clubs are under pressure to strengthen.
After retaining their top flight status Villa know that they have frailties, and that means that significant sums of money will need to be spent to help them avoid a similar battle next term.
Many players are going to be linked over the coming weeks, but it seems that two players could be leading the list.
Reports from Football Insider have claimed that Aston Villa are plotting a double swoop for Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma.
The duo, who play for Brentford, were brought to Griffin Park by Smith during his time as head coach of the Bees.
The west London side, who are now coached by Thomas Frank, were just minutes away from being promoted to the Premier League but lost the Championship play-off final against Fulham in extra time on Tuesday night.
It was a disappointing result, and one which looks to have sealed the fate of the duo.
The BBC have reported that Watkins is now available for just £18million after a clause was activated in his contract after missing out on promotion.
With the likes of Leeds United, Crystal Palace and Brighton also interested, it seems that the 26-goal star is likely to move on.
Benrahma was arguably the best player in the Championship last term after scoring 17 goals and creating 10 for the Bees.
However it’s claimed that the forward could cost upward of £25million this summer if he’s to make a move.
But with interest from the likes of Chelsea and Arsenal, it seems like a distinct possibility for Brentford to lose both players.
GIVEMESPORT’S Phil Spencer says…
The Dean Smith factor could be massive in helping Aston Villa here.
Both Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahma loved their time playing under Smith at Brentford and could arguably credit their recent success to his show of faith.
With both players now looking ready-made for the Premier League I think that a move to Villa Park would be ideal.
The Villa boss knows the two players inside-out and that can only help to get them up to speed in the top flight.
Of course there’s significant competition from elsewhere, but often those personal relationships can prove to be hugely beneficial.
If Aston Villa can wrap up this double deal it’ll be a massive boost, and one that could see the club sustain their Premier League status for years to come.
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