Aston Villa are ready to break their transfer record to sign Sheffield United target Neal Maupay, according to the Sun.

Villa will pay £20m to land the Brentford top scorer. This would eclipse the £18m they spent on Darren Bent back in January 2011.

Maupay is also understood to be among the Blades’ targets. However, they face further competition with Brighton and Hove Albion, Burnley and Norwich City having also joined the chase.

It is little wonder five Premier League clubs are interested in Maupay after the striker had another fantastic season. The 22-year-old scored 25 Championship goals in 2018/19 and provided eight assists.

Why Villa lead the way

Despite fierce competition for Maupay, the newly promoted Birmingham side hope they have an ace up their sleeve.

That is because current manager Dean Smith was the person who brought the Frenchman to English football back in 2017.

Smith was Bees boss before taking the job at Villa Park in October and Maupay has made no secret of the fact he would be tempted by a reunion.

(Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images)

“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,” the forward told the Independent in December.

“But at this moment I can’t be focused on other things than Brentford.

“Obviously, I really liked working for him, so if one day he wants to bring me to Villa or wherever I would listen to him because he has done a lot of good things for me.”

If the Blades do miss out on Maupay then Chris Wilder is interested in two other number nines from England’s second tier.

The Sheffield Star reports that Swansea City’s Oli McBurnie and Britt Assombalonga of Middlesbrough are also being considered. Southampton attacker Sam Gallagher has also been linked.

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