Aston Villa signs striker Watkins from 2nd-tier Brentford

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa strengthened its attacking options days before the start of the Premier League season by signing striker Ollie Watkins from Brentford on Wednesday.

Watkins was the player of the year in the second-tier Championship last season and scored 26 goals in all competitions for Brentford, which lost in the playoffs to Fulham.

The 24-year-old Watkins will compete with Mbwana Samatta and Wesley for the striker spot at Villa, which secured its Premier League survival on the final day of last season.

Villa’s first game is against Sheffield United on Sept. 21.

“For me he is the modern striker,” Brentford manager Thomas Frank said of Watkins. “He has so many attributes and his link-up play has improved so much. He can press and run in behind but for me the biggest thing is that he has learned to find top positions in the box, which is where he scored almost all his goals last season.

“I am sure he will have success at Aston Villa and I can see him having a great future at international level, too.”

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