Well, if there was a shred of possibility in the Jack Grealish link to Middlesbrough, the Villa’s interest in Jordan Rhodes could evidence it.
It has always been a bit of a puzzle as to why Villa didn’t secure Rhodes’ signature when the Rudy Gestede deal went through.
Of course, this could be down to any number of factors. Middlesbrough were barely started on their own transfer options and were looking to bolster rather than lose an attacking option.
The January window is a bit of a Merry-Go-Round as we discovered whilst awaiting Barnsley to recruit in order to give the green light and release Hourihane.
Equally, there’s the possibility that the player simply didn’t want to drop back down a division. As tried and tested as Rhodes is, he would reasonably want a shot at proving he can deliver in the top flight.
More probably though, Villa were also restricted on account of finances and more specifically Financial Fair Play rules.
Indeed, our need to strengthen during this window has restricted us from free spending as we did during summer 2016.
Not that this is a bad thing.
For all of the money thrown around in summer 2016, few could truly be labelled as particularly good value. Indeed, Ross McCormack could prove to be a very costly error, as just one example.
Villa though have recruited well, and sit with a virtually neutral balance in terms of outlay as things stand. That represents pretty diligent work given who has come in the door so far:
The debate will rage concerning whether Rhodes is the player that Villa need. And there is a debate to be had there. However, given the newly arrived dynamism in midfield, he certainly stands a better chance of succeeding than had he joined earlier.
Villa’s ball & chain, for the moment at least, is Financial Fair Play.
We need a valuable lure. Therefore, quite feasibly Grealish becomes a pawn in our efforts to reinvigorate the squad without destroying the bank balance.
Indeed, whilst Grealish’s form has left much to be desired at times both this season and last for Villa, his stock is generally high across football.
Jack has the potential to become a top footballer, but it is far from clear as to whether he will truly achieve this. Potential counts for a lot though.
With this in mind, the top sides will be quite happy to monitor his development at Villa and keep a watching brief from afar.
That’s the reality of where we as a club are truly at now. For all of the grand standing and protectionism from our owner, if a top top club had or does come in for Grealish he would leave.
For all of the romanticism and faux loyalty we hear from players, the modern era has seen countless top Villa players move on. Rightly or wrongly.
The fact that Grealish hasn’t moved, is most likely down to his stuttering consistency & off-field exploits (in equal measure).
This is where the next tier of clubs will inevitably be interested. The Middlesbrough’s of this world, as things stand right now.
Grealish would surely represent a decent addition to their squad and one which could reasonably be hoped to improve them in time – and if he does – be sold on for considerable gains.
The dilemma, and the sacrifice at this moment on Teeside?
They would be expected to negate all or a significant part of any fee they might expect for Jordan Rhodes.
Short term losses, long term gains?
Or something like that.
The Villa Underground doesn’t want to see Grealish go.
However, has the midfielder shown enough to suggest he will be a key figure in any Villa resurgence?
Further, with the arrival of significant reinforcements in midfield, where does he fit (if at all) in Bruce’s future plans?