Whilst there is an un-nerving sense of inevitability about Jack Grealish’s future, much now appears to hinge on Villa’s persuasiveness, our captain’s personal ambitions and Man Utd’s increasing desperation.
Grealish is undoubtedly Villa’s hottest property, but remains an asset that the club and it’s supporters obviously want to retain. From a playing perspective the Solihull born midfielder is our marquee player, capable of both inspiring and carrying what was at times a forlorn Villa side last term and in The Championship before it.
Villa’s miraculous escape from relegation, over-hauling a seven point deficit with just four games remaining caught many potential suitors off guard. The fact that Jack Grealish remains a Premier League player significantly strengthen’s Villa’s negotiating position.
The Villa Underground’s view has always been that this will be a less than straightforward tug-of-war. This is complicated by the the player’s obvious desire to compete for silverware and England recognition, tempered against a unique opportunity to be central to any return to fortune’s for his boyhood club. Whilst sentimentality and loyalty are a bygone notion in the modern era perhaps, it may yet have some bearing on this transfer saga.
And a saga it does risk becoming, especially with the domestic transfer window concerningly running until almost three weeks into the 2020 / 2021 Premier League season. As a consequence of the protracted end to a Covid-19 hit season, the window has itself been shifted, with the 7th of October the revised transfer deadline day.
Grealish remains under contract at Villa for the next three seasons, with a current weekly salary in the region of £65,000. This gives Villa some levarage in terms of the longevity of the current deal, but also our first major financial decision of the new era: do we offer Grealish improved terms and with it likely make him our first 100k+ per week footballer? United are understood to be prepared to offer a remarkable £200k a week basic salary as incentive.
However, every footballer has his price and there is also an argument for removing our own sentiment and thinking rationally about any proposed offer. If a transfer offer in the region of anything like £80 million is received, that would provide not only significant income to the football club but the funds with which to enter the transfer market with serious purpose. There is of course the counter argument; how would Aston Villa identify and compete for a Jack Grealish replacement?
Either way, the matter has to be resolved swiftly. We cannot enter into the new season with rumour abounding about a player central to our plans. As unpalatable as it might be, if Grealish genuinely wants to leave and acceptable terms can be agreed, then we shouldn’t hold onto a player whose head might be elsewhere. However, if the oppositite is the case, then we should confirm that and communicate it clearly. We dare not have a short memory though, as those who can recall the Fabian Delph debacle will testify.
Manchester United and Manchester City are both interested in Grealish, and with the 24 year old reportedly ‘keen‘ on a move to link up with Ole Gunnar Solskjær at Old Trafford we are clearly at a critical phase. Arsenal’s reported interest should not be discounted either given their need to reinvigorate a middling squad, but given their lack of direction and progression, must be considered outsiders.
It’s no surprise therefore that Grealish will sit down with Villa’s CEO Christian Purslow as soon as he returns from a close season break in Ibiza. With Man United rebuffed in their attempts to lure Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, the focus on acquiring a suitable alternative intensifies. These face-to-face talks will in all likelihood determine not just Jack Grealish’s future, but also Aston Villa’s recruitment targets for the remainder of the transfer window and beyond.
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