As MOMS stated at the end of May, Aston Villa losing Jack Grealish will very much rubber stamp the failure of Tony Xia’s two season gamble at Aston Villa. The potential poster boy of Villa’s mid-term future sold on the cheap to try to quell the fire of financial incompetence.
So, despite the transfer constantly being labelled as ‘inevitable’ by the local press, is there a scenario where the player could stay at Villa? If Spurs are so keen, when will they make their move?
Cast you mind back to January 2017 and Steve Bruce’s first transfer window and there were murmurs that Villa would consider offloading Grealish, after doubts about his temperament. The player though didn’t want to leave. Fast-forward a season and after a freakish kidney complication, a returning Grealish proved to be a transformed and focused player, showing both consistency and the development of a more rounded box-to-box game.
By all reports and allegedly by the player’s own admission to fans at Villa’s recent pre-season friendly against Kidderminster, Grealish was more than happy to stay at Villa in the Championship. In terms of his development, finally playing a full season as a main man at Villa would have been a great platform for him. It would also give Villa hope of finally completing their promotion mission.
Lets be honest here, Spurs have little interest in parting with £30m or £40m or whatever estimate the club is desperate to peddle. They wouldn’t view Grealish as a complete player yet and the Villa midfielder hasn’t actually done enough on the pitch to justify such a big fee. He certainly wouldn’t walk into the Spurs first XI either.
Villa, through press leaks by disgruntled former senior employees spilling the extent of Villa’s financial woe and the several worrying Company House website entries highlighting desperate securities for loans, have announced to the footballing world that the club are having a fire sale.
It has been the public nature of Villa’s financial decay that has principally perked Spurs’ interest in Grealish, as they now have a real chance to get a potential future England international at a cut price.
If all was ok with the accounts of Villa, despite the club not getting promoted, Grealish would have probably at least given it until the next transfer window or next summer. If Villa had been promoted, Grealish would have probably been at Villa for a few more seasons, before Spurs would have been able to get him (if Villa didn’t kick on in the Premier League). If the London team were still interested, it would be at a far higher price than they’ll fork out for any deal this summer.
In terms of timing, if Spurs are really keen for Grealish, Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino would ideally want him on their American pre-season trip, which will see them play Roma, Barcelona and AC Milan in a stateside pre-season tournament (sure beats playing Walsall and Telford).
The Spurs squad flies out on Sunday, so this could be the week for him to sign.
Grealish playing against Walsall suggests a deal might not be so imminent though, although that’s not really a guarantee of anything. It’s normally business as usual, until any deal is set in stone.
Yes, from Spurs point-of-view, it would help Grealish integrate with the Spurs squad quicker if he went to the states. Yet, if they regard buying Grealish as getting a long-term prospect on the cheap, they would be happy to let it play out until deadline day and make Tony Xia sweat to run the price down.
Spurs aren’t desperate, but the Villa owner is.
Villa would need a savvy negotiator to come up trumps in any Spurs deal. Instead, with no proper CEO or experienced football wheeler-dealers currently at the club, Villa must come across as desperate as an inexperienced second-hand car salesmen.
Playing it cool for Spurs may backfire if another suitor later emerges in the transfer window, but it doesn’t look like there are any at the moment. Maybe that’s why Villa seems to be actively advertising the player for sale. Bruce didn’t exactly have his poker face on when he spoke last week about the possibility of Grealish leaving.
Transparency and honesty are all well and good, but in such a situation, considering the shark infested waters the club are currently drowning in, is it the best policy?
£40m for Grealish? Good luck with that.
Steve Bruce, obviously well-versed in the game, has already spelt out what he expects to happen.
“People will know that we have got financial problems and they’ll sit and wait, and wait, till Deadline Day possibly,” said the Villa boss, last week in reference to Grealish. “I hope that doesn’t happen but we’ve got to baton down the hatches and wait for it.”
Tighten Your Grip
In the meantime, it’s perhaps best not for Villa supporters to wish the player away, which several have been guilty of on social media, including Stan Collymore. Considering the increasing lack of home-grown talent and true identity at most of the major English football clubs nowadays, you should fight to keep a player that can provide that.
Yes, it’s idealistic, but in the long-term, Grealish, if he continues to develop, could be a big part of Villa’s future and his homegrown affinity with supporters will be hard to match and will have positive commercial spin-offs for the club.
Villa in the past, by sticking to their guns, have kept the likes of Gareth Barry and Christian Benteke an extra season, when the press had them already sold off. So, there is some hope.
Villa’s quickest way out of this current mess would via the financial rewards of promotion; there’s still half a chance of obtaining that if the services of Grealish and Chester are maintained and the likes of Hourihane, Elphick, Lansbury and Hogan step up. And, more importantly, if Bruce is a bit more progressive and less cautious in his tactical approach.
Some of Villa’s high earners like Mile Jedinak and Jonathan Kodjia, do have reported interest and suitors out there. While Villa’s squad may weaken if they left, it may not necessarily handicap the first team too much.
While more money needs to be found, the sale of such players would certainly buy Villa some time and the situation may improve with the potential prospect of new owners or investment.
I would rather run the gauntlet of FFP fines and sanctions, than let Grealish go cheaply for just a few million more than Villa bought Ross McCormack for. Ultimately, a cut-price sale wouldn’t solve Villa’s financial predicament anyway, it would just weaken the team and continue their Championship limbo, if not worse.
New Podcast episode incoming…