Oh, stupid transfer rumours. How I didn’t miss you — at all.
You see, the latest idea is that a number of Premier League clubs are interested in offering Jack Grealish an immediate return to the top flight, with Stoke City perhaps leading the charge. We wrote on this earlier.
For just about everyone involved, the idea of a Grealish sale is, well, a pretty terrible idea.
Let’s start at the top, with his career. While Grealish was instrumental in Villa’s survival under Tim Sherwood in 2015, and started out not-terribly this year with that gorgeous goal at Leicester City (sigh), he struggled for the rest of the year at Villa Park, only making 16 league appearances of which, notably, Villa lost 16. Simply put, while there’s loads of potential for Grealish if he’s in the right situation, he’s probably not quite ready to be a Premier League regular right now, especially for a side like Stoke chasing the European places.
You could make an argument that for Grealish, getting a move away from the toxic environment at Villa would be beneficial. But there’s two things to counter that — first that he’s a boyhood Villa fan, and that promoting the club back to the Premier League should appeal to him more than anything else in the squad, and secondly that it really is a new start at Villa Park, with Dr. Tony Xia taking over as the new owner, leading a charge that’ll see a new manager, more youth promoted and a handful of new, influential signings. Villa have the opportunity to build around Grealish for the next five years; why would he throw that away for a chance to be a bit-part player for Stoke?
And then as we’re talking about Stoke, or any one of their suitors, they’re still going to have to pay a premium for a player that just isn’t ready for the Premier League week-in, week-out. While his campaign was rough, and Villa are down on times, it’s not like the new regime at B6 is going to want to sell its brightest prospect for pennies on the dollar. The money a club should have to spend on Grealish should be going to a player that can get the Potters over the top for a European push, not necessarily on the future.
Of course, we end with Villa, who should have absolutely no reason to offload Grealish. He’s arguably the player with the most potential to come through the ranks at Bodymoor Heath in quite some time, and he’s a kid who genuinely loves the club. If Aston Villa are ever going to return to the heights of yesteryear, without exorbitant spending, they need young guns like Grealish, Jordan Lyden, André Green and Kevin Toner to come through and be the squad you build around. By dropping down to the Championship, Villa are offered a chance to do something most football clubs can’t, and that’s fully rebuild. Any new regime worth a damn would see Grealish as central to that, both for the present and the future, and wouldn’t consider a sale.
As he showed in Toulon, Grealish is a really skilled player with a bright future. But it really shouldn’t make that sense for him to be linked with a move away from his boyhood club, on the cusp of its biggest season in a generation — and one he’s set to play a crucial role in.