As Aston Villa move into a tumultuous transfer window with a number of moving parts, two rumours today have started to outline the difficulties of the situation we find ourselves in.
Sky Sports has reported that Leicester City have identified Jack Grealish as a target. Leicester are responding to the outgoing Riyad Mahrez and are looking to Super Jack to bolster their midfield. As has been suggested before, however, the Foxes aren’t alone in their covetousness as Arsenal and Manchester United are both circling our hometown hero.
It’s reported that Villa have tagged Grealish at £40m, which could give the club some wriggle room with FFP requirements. The difference that could be made up by seeing Jack walk ideally would allow the club to do some other business to plug holes in the lineup or keep other players from leaving.
Which brings us to centre-back Tommy Elphick. The Chronicle write that Reading are executing an option to sign the former Villa captain permanently after his January loan agreement.
Elphick faced a well-documented rough 2016-2017 season at Villa Park but in this last campaign rebounded and provided rather solid play while captain John Terry and striker Christopher Samba were injured. His move to Reading didn’t initially pan out as he severely injured his knee in February, but with other shoes dropping at Madejski Stadium, Elphick is being viewed as critical to keep on the Royal back line.
The reported option highlights the FFP difficulties Aston Villa were facing “privately” this past season and are now facing publicly as the permanent swap would leave Aston Villa with only James Chester and the oft-forgotten Micah Richards as the only first team centre-backs remaining with the club. With Terry not being offered a return and Samba out of contract, a player of Elphick’s calibre who could walk into the starting XI would have presumably been a welcome sight.
Alas, Reading will get the return and Villa will need to go shopping. Thus it’s looking as if the centre-back situation highlights a hard truth about Jack Grealish’s future that Villa fans would rather not experience: there are few and precarious routes that Villa can take that result in contention for promotion next season while keeping our newly minted number 10 in the fold.