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How this Brentford man has stepped-up to the mark after talisman’s summer exit: Comment

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Brentford’s Ollie Watkins has stepped up to the mark for his club this season, who lost their star striker Neal Maupay to Brighton & Hove Albion in the summer.

Scoring 25 goals for Brentford in the Championship last season, Neal Maupay was a man in-demand in the summer.

The Frenchman signed for the Bees from Saint-Etienne ahead of the 2017/18 season – his first club in England, Maupay scored 12 goals in all competitions that season.

Last season was definitely his breakthrough though, with 28 in all competitions and scooping a host of awards at the end of it.

Aged 22, Maupay was voted Players’ Player of the Year and Supporters’ Player of the Year at Brentford, and also took the EFL Player of the Year award at the London Football awards.

It was a fine season for the Frenchman, who made the step-up to the Premier League with Graham Potter’s Brighton in the summer.

A deal reported to be worth in excess of £20 million, Brentford paid little over £1 million for the striker in 2017.

Brentford wished him well on his way up to the top-flight and spent the money received on a whole host of players – Bryan Mbeumo, Mathias Jensen, Pontus Jasson, Christian Norgaard and David Raya all signed for the club, in what was an exciting summer of spending from Thomas Frank.

A replacement for the goals that Maupay wasn’t acquired though. Mbeumo was the only striker brought in over the summer and having impressed since, his goals tally is nothing compared to Maupay’s.

It left Brentford in need of a hero, a goal-scorer to take things by the scruff of the neck – up step, Ollie Watkins.

Will Brentford make the Championship play-offs this season?

Yes

Yes

No

No

Watkins in his third-season at Griffin Park has already equalled his goals return from his previous two seasons – he’s scored ten goals from 15 Championship games so far this season.

In Maupay’s absence, Watkins has come into more of a central role this season. He was a wider player last season with Maupay the middle-man, but Watkins has taken to his new role with ease and it’s proven a tactical masterstroke from Frank.

A few eyebrows were raised when Brentford didn’t replace Maupay with a proven goal-scorer in the summer, but they’ve found one in Watkins, and the Englishman is going from strength to strength under Frank in what could be a fine season for them in the Championship.

Freelance football journalist based in Sheffield. Postgraduate degree in Sports Journalism, and good experience in digital football writing and match reporting.

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