Brentford have Exeter’s stubbornness to thank for Ollie Watkins joining the Griffin Park outfit.

The Bees top scorer admitted if it wasn’t for his former employers digging their heels in two years ago, he may well have joined league rivals Derby County.

The West London outfit paid £1.8 for the 23-year-old in 2017, and it’s proven to be a shrewd investment by the club as reports suggest he’s now valued at £25million.

“I was really close to joining Derby in the in the (2017) January transfer window,” he said.

“Then manager Steve McClaren wanted to sign me, and I wanted to go there at the time.

“It was just down to money, I think.

“Exeter wanted a little bit more money at the time, and a loan back, because we were doing well and ended up getting to the League Two play-off final that year.

“Then it kind of fell through, so it could have been a lot different!

“I could’ve been a Derby player but I stayed at Exeter and things worked out for the better here at Brentford.”

With 13 goals in 20 Championship appearances, the hotshot has found himself linked with a host of Premiership clubs.

Crystal Palace and Newcastle United have both reportedly registered an interest in a player that was initially signed as a winger.

Brentford boss Thomas Frank transformed Watkins into a lethal finisher, more than filling void left by Neal Maupay who left for Brighton in a reported £20million deal at the end of the last transfer window.

Watkins’ goals have catapulted Frank’s men up the table where they occupy a play-off spot after a dazzling return of eight wins in eleven outings.

They travel to runaway leaders West Brom on Saturday knowing a win at the Hawthorns would keep them in the play-off spots.