As the prophet Tom Petty once said -- “The waiting is the hardest part.“
With 15 matches left in the Championship, Aston Villa are starting to look to the future and reports are surfacing that patience seems to be the name of the game. Bruce told the press earlier this month when asked about the Alan Hutton expiring contract situation, “at this position where we are we’re not in a position to offer anybody a new contract.” John Terry’s future is also in a holding pattern albeit at the player’s request. There is also the future of the five loan players at Villa — Johnstone, Snodgrass, Grabban, Onomah, and Tuanzebe. To round out the lists — and as an FYI — expiring contracts in the summer are Samba, Agbonlahor, Bunn and the aforementioned Terry and Hutton.
Then there is Jack Grealish. The young man has come into his own — putting on some dominating displays in the midfield after coming back from a nasty kidney injury in the preseason. Coming off a man of the match performance in the derby — Mirror reports, “Contract talks with Grealish are on hold until the summer in the hope that following promotion, the £20,000-a-week ace, who has two-and-a-half-years left, will then earn a bumper new long-term deal.”
There is no doubt that Jack’s current run of form has earned him the right to open these talks. Hell -- if Grealish finishes the season playing this well he can likely name his price and Villa would have to open the checkbook. Fans would likely/rightly be outraged if the club balked at even having the conversation. But -- if the report is to be believed — talks have happened and seem positive (though that could be me reading too much into the final clause of the quote “will then earn”).
The decision to hold off makes sense for both sides.
Financial Fair Play has been one of the threads of the Villa season and it plays in this conversation again. Consistency is something nice to see from a football club — even if it is forced by financial restraints. I’ll point you back to the Bruce quote about Hutton above — the club is not in position to offer anyone a new deal. So the same must apply for Jack otherwise the club has made Bruce a liar.
Jack Grealish is going to get paid. He may simply take the Agbonlahor contract as well as the hometown mantle from the forward who has been no where near the pitch for most of the final year on his contract. Just to nip this one right now — there have been zero reports that I’ve seen saying Jack has been looking to leave the club — so don’t jump to that conclusion.
But the player (and whole team really) need to concentrate on the remaining 15 matches. It seems as if that is exactly what is happening and credit is due all around for that. Promotion would change the entire calculus of the club and will set the price for all contracts/transfers this summer.