Jack Grealish’s future at Aston Villa remains in the balance, but talks to sign a new bumper contract have already begun while the club captain is away on international duty with England at EURO 2020.
In an ideal world for Villa, coupled with the signings of Emiliano Buendia and Ashley Young, a new deal for Grealish would give the club and its supporters a huge boost ahead of the new Premier League campaign.
Key targets Emile Smith Rowe and James Ward-Prowse might also be more attainable if Grealish pens a new deal at Villa Park, and certainly the club’s chances of finishing within the top six come May 2022 are improved and some.
Alternatively, if worst comes to worst for Villa and Grealish has his sights set on the blue half of Manchester after EURO 2020 and all that comes with playing under Pep Guardiola in the Champions League, challenging for Premier League titles and major domestic competitions too, Villa won’t be able to stand in his way.
While Grealish owes nothing to the club he helped to promotion in 2019 and indeed survival the following Premier League season, Super Jack could complete a personal mission with the club he holds dear to his heart, next season.
Grealish grew up watching the likes of Gabby Agbonlahor and Ashley Young fire Villa into the dizzy heights of challenging for Champions League places over a decade ago, and now he has the opportunity to become the catalyst for the club’s reappearance on the European stage once more.
Villa remain confident about tying Grealish down to a new contract this summer that would take his salary above £150,000-a-week, according to the EuroJournal.
Grealish has been at Villa since the age of six and has risen through the ranks to surpass 200 first-team appearances for the club and become the club’s captain.
Last season was arguably Grealish’s best season in the claret and blue of Villa, scoring six goals and registering 12 assists – despite missing a third of the Premier League season due to a shin injury. He also ranked amongst some elite company in various statistical measures of his creativity and output.
Grealish contributed to 34% of Villa’s goals in the form of both goals scored and assisted last term and, more often than not, he was the best player on the pitch having collected just the nine Premier League Man of The Match awards to prove it.
More technically speaking, only Kevin De Bruyne completed more live-ball passes that led to a shooting opportunity than Grealish last season, who working within a Villa side hamstrung by injuries and heavy rotation was over-reliant on his contributions.
Grealish also created 92 goal-scoring chances, which was once more a tally that only Manchester City’s De Bruyne could better in the Premier League.
Reports that Manchester City are willing to part with up to £100million to take Grealish away from Villa Park would have therefore hardly come as any surprise to Villa fans who know exactly what their captain is worth and, to Villa’s ambitious owners, Grealish is an invaluable part of their five-year plan.
Grealish was won over over by the “ambition” of Nassef Sawiris during a FaceTime call with the Egyptian billionaire who, along with Wes Edens, rolled out a new contract to Villa’s skipper worth more than a reported £100,000-a-week before the start of the last Premier League campaign. CEO Christian Purslow, who runs the club on behalf of NSWE, said: “Jack is an emblem of our owner’s vision for Aston Villa.”
In an interview in the Guardian, before the start of last season, Smith also added: “Villa footballers have won the top trophy before, the European Cup in 1982.
“I’m not saying I’m going to lead the team to that but that has to be the aim: to plan, over the next five or six years, to try to be challenging in Europe and things like that.
What do you think of Jack Grealish’s future at Aston Villa? Have your say in the comments section below
“You see the progress Wolverhampton have made over the last three years and that’s been fantastic to see as a fellow Midlander. You can’t help but admire what they’ve done.
“So a club as historically esteemed as ourselves should be aiming at that level as well. That’s what our owners will be aiming at and that’s what we have to aim at as coaching and playing staff.”
Having spent more than £250million on transfer fees alone since gaining promotion back to the Premier League in 2019, Sawiris and Edens have let their actions do the talking.
On the face of things, a British record transfer fee of £100million would provide a more than healthy supplement for Smith to play with and spread the cost across his squad. Although, for a player of such influence at a club determined to crack the Premier League’s top six in the coming years, NSWE have no intention to sell an asset that is critical to the performance of the football club.
Co-owner and American billionaire Edens already knows what a club poster-boy can do for club morale, income and brand value. The success of Edens’ co-owned Milwaukee Bucks has increased the NBA franchise’s standing, the star power of Giannis Antetokounmpo and the marketability of both after signing a record breaking five-year ‘supermax’ deal, worth $228.2 million, back in December.
After delivering a multi-million dollar sales pitch inside Antetokounmpo’s mansion last year, Edens knew if their presentation was persuasive enough, he could dramatically tilt the likelihood that their franchise would retain one of the most dominant superstars of his generation for the indefinite future.
Edens and Sawiris both understand the importance of not only recruiting key assets, but retaining them too can often lead to significant rewards in a business, and of course in football. While Villa fans aren’t disillusioned to the fact that their ‘Brum Town Baggio’ might not wave the one club flag his whole career, like Francesco Totti did in Rome, Grealish can cement his own legacy that could set the club up for decades at the top.
The long and short of it remains quite simple for Villa’s hierarchy; any sale of Grealish would put the club back in their quest for European football and, with Villa’s top six rivals next season of Arsenal, Everton, and Tottenham all making slow starts to the summer transfer window, a serious opportunity will be denied if Grealish was to leave Villa Park.
What’s more, a potential sale of Grealish could take years to come to terms with on the pitch. Villa’s ambitions won’t change and it will be a relief to fans that NSWE will continue to support the club financially, but replacing the influence of Grealish will take time and shrewd negotiation.
Knowing Villa would have received a pretty payment for Grealish’s sale, approaching clubs for their assets will be an issue that will cause Villa to pay over the odds and recruiting a level of player that would come close to addressing the absence of Grealish will be a tricky balance to strike.
Do you want all the latest Villa news, views and transfer talk sent straight to your inbox?
- All you have to do is click here
- Enter your selection and email address.
That’s all it takes, so why are you waiting?
Selling the Aston Villa package is a whole lot harder with no Grealish or European football to trade with however, if the captain sticks around and does indeed manage to propel his boyhood club into the top six next season, Villa can then go about their business with or without Grealish in the following summer transfer window knowing they’ve got the carrot of European football.
Working around almost every eventuality, if Grealish pens a new deal but Villa still fall short of a top-six finish next season, then at least there won’t be a sense of ‘what could have been’ about Grealish’s eventual departure form the club, for next season presents a huge opportunity for Villa to leapfrog their rivals for European football qualification.
Villa kick-off their 2021/22 Premier League campaign against Watford on Saturday, August 14 but a lot of business is yet to be completed and the future of Grealish is of paramount importance.