Aston Villa manager Steve Bruce knew all too well that it would only be a matter of time before star striker Jonathan Kodjia started encouraging admiring glances from further up the footballing pyramid.
A Championship record £15 million signing from Bristol City last summer, as reported by Sky Sports, Kodjia repaid the hefty fee with a superb individual campaign, scoring 19 times in 36 appearances for a side who hit the back of the net fewer times than relegated Blackburn Rovers.
“I’m sure we will do everything in our damnedest to keep hold of him but football is football,” Bruce admitted to the Birmingham Mail in April when asked whether he expected Premier League interest in the Ivorian international.
“How can he be denied if Chelsea come in? You can’t deny that but he knows that he’s in a big football club and he’s well-liked by everybody concerned.”
Kodjia may be playing for one of England’s biggest and most historic clubs but the simple fact is that Villa finished 13th in the second tier last season. And despite an excellent seven game unbeaten run that has Bruce’s side two points shy of the play-offs, they are just one of countless sides believing they have got a genuine chance of promotion this term.
Therefore, with the Birmingham Mail claiming that Everton scouted Kodjia during Tuesday’s 4-0 away win at Burton Albion, Bruce may have a right to be fearful. The Toffees are expected to hit hard in the transfer market again in January despite spending around £150 million in the summer due to their failure to adequately replace talismanic goalscorer Romelu Lukaku.
Therefore, Villa may have a challenge holding onto Kodjia in the face of Premier League interest, but Bruce is already braced and ready.