Dean Smith has lauded the talents of Ollie Watkins and Said Benrahama, as the duo continue to be linked with the likes of Aston Villa and Leeds.
The Villa boss stated that Watkins is a ‘top striker’, whilst the Algerian winger is ‘energetic’ and he’s ‘everything with what you see’, as he told Sky Sports Football (04/08/20 at 7:25 pm).
Despite producing top performances this season, Brentford’s exciting duo were unable to stop Fulham from winning the Championship play-off final on Tuesday night.
Smith, who worked with and signed both players when he was at Griffin Park, shared nothing but positive words about the much-sought-after duo.
“We were fortunate to see young Benrahma,” Smith told Sky Sports. “He was on-loan in the French second division, on-loan from Nice, and I really liked what I saw. He’s energetic. He’s everything with what you see.
“Yes, I was really confident [they would have this type of impact]. I mean Ollie Watkins, I tried signing him a year earlier from Exeter, but he wanted to do another year. I like, even at a young age, he went out to Weston-super-Mare from Exeter on loan and scored 14, 15 goals. He has just got a great attitude and he doesn’t stop working. He’s a joy to work with.
“I always said to him, and he will tell you, that he would be a striker. He liked playing on the left. He felt that was the best area he could go and pick up goals at the far post.
“I remember once we played Bristol City away and he was outstanding. He ran them ragged. We won 1-0, Neal Maupay came on and scored the winner. But he was disappointed because he hadn’t scored and that’s the sign of a top striker. He’ll do well.”
Under Marcelo Bielsa’s stewardship, both would thrive and add much-needed quality, depth, pace and trickery to the Leeds forward line.
But there’s competition for their signature because the Sunday Mirror (02/08 page 66) reported that Smith wants to re-unite with Benrahma, whilst the Telegraph claims that the Midlands giants are set to pounce for Watkins after that Wembley defeat.
It could be argued that Villa holds the cards in this race because Smith signed and worked with both players at Brentford.
Either way, it will be a surprise to see both of them still plying their trade in the second-tier next season because their qualities during the recently concluded campaign have proven that they are now worthy of that jump up