With it seeming ever more likely that top scorer Tammy Abraham will not be returning to Villa Park next season, there will be immense pressure on Aston Villa to find another reliable striker to lead the line for Dean Smith’s side as they prepare to return to the Premier League next season.
Fortunately for Villa, they already appear to have identified their next target to fill that role, and the fact that it is Smith himself in the Villa Park dugout surely gives them an advantage in the battle to get this particular deal done, even with the club set to face competition from elsewhere in the summer transfer window.
According to The Sheffield Star, both Villa and Sheffield United – who enjoyed their own promotion to the Premier League after finishing in the second automatic promotion spot behind Norwich City this season – are interested in a move for Brentford striker Neal Maupay.
With 25 goals in 43 Championship appearances this season, and eight assists to boot, Maupay will surely be a valuable asset to either Villa or the Blades next season, with both teams needing the strongest attacking options possible if they are to survive on their respective returns to the top flight.
This could therefore turn into something of a bidding war between the two sides over the coming months, but in Smith, Villa will surely feel that they have a crucial advantage in the race for Maupay’s signature.
If Maupay is to make the move from Brentford to Aston Villa, then he will making the same switch that Smith himself made, and the fact that the now Villa manager is the person who oversaw the start of Maupay’s rise to prominence at Griffin Park could be a big source of confidence to the Frenchman, particularly if he feels Smith can do the same for him in the Premier League.
Indeed, it seems as though Maupay is ready to answer Smith’s call whenever it comes, as he told The Independent in December: “I have a really, really good relationship with Dean. So obviously if one day he calls me and says ‘Neal, I need you in my team’ I would consider it.”
With Villa in need of a goal scorer if they are to make sure their return to the Premier League is not a brief one, now seems as good a time as ever for Smith to make that call to Maupay.
It was the appointment of Smith that proved so crucial in turning around Villa’s form and taking them to the Premier League. That appointment may now prove crucial again, if they are to complete the transfer that could be all important when it comes to keeping them in the promised land.