Dean Smith failed to bring in ‘fantastic’ £20m target, claims ex-Villa man

Neal Maupay

An ex-Aston Villa defender has stated that Villains boss Dean Smith repeatedly tried to bring in Brighton striker Neal Maupay.

Former Villa Park full-back Alan Hutton claims Smith attempted to sign the 24-year-old attacker on multiple occasions ahead of the 2019/20 season.

However, Maupay, who scored 10 Premier League goals last term and already has four this campaign, ended up making a £20million switch from Brentford to Brighton that summer instead.

The Frenchman had played under Smith during his three-year tenure at Brentford between 2015 and 2018. Maupay signed for the Bees in July 2017 before his switch to the south coast in August 2019.

Speaking to BBC Radio 5 Live (via the Birmingham Mail), Hutton said: “He (Smith) did try (to buy Maupay) quite a few times but he’s got that connection obviously with Brentford.

“I tell you one thing, every time we used to go there (Griffin Park, former home ground of Brentford) as Villa, we would have a nightmare. They were that good.

“They had Ollie Watkins, himself (Maupay) and they could cause you all sorts of problems. And it doesn’t surprise me that they have moved on from there and are now performing at a high level. You could see the quality that they have.”

Smith managed to lure Watkins to the West Midlands during the latest transfer window; another player who played under him during his time at Brentford.

The forward enjoyed a dream debut, scoring a hat-trick on his debut in Aston Villa’s 7-2 routing of Liverpool.

The Villa manager also renewed ties with Brentford’s Ezri Konsa after bringing him to Villa Park last year.

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Maupay a “fantastic player”

Neal Maupay Brighton

Hutton told BBC Radio 5 Live of his experiences playing against Maupay during his Championship days while he was playing for Aston Villa.

“(He’s a) fantastic player,” the former Scottish international said. “He twisted me up once or twice (in the Championship), so I know how good he can be.

“To be fair, he has come into the Premier League and he’s started on fire. He’s a real threat. He likes to run in behind. He’ll take it to feet. He’ll cause all sorts of problems.”

Since his move to England, Maupay has netted 55 goals in 139 games across all competitions.