Manchester City have opened talks with Aston Villa over the potential signing of Jack Grealish.
Sky Sports News has been told City made their initial approach several days ago, and lines of communication remain open.
Villa don’t want to sell Grealish, and have offered him a new and improved contract to try to persuade him that his future lies at Villa Park – despite having four years left on his existing deal which was only signed in September.
The club are adamant they want to build their team around him with Dean Smith’s summer recruitment plans – having already signed Emi Buendia and Ashley Young – based on players who will play with Grealish, not in place of him.
Much depends now on whether City are prepared to meet Villa’s valuation of the England international – expected to be around £100m – and whether Grealish himself tells Villa that he wants to move to the Etihad.
Pep Guardiola is a keen admirer of the 25-year-old and have also been linked with Grealish’s England team-mate Harry Kane and have already had one £100m bid rejected by Tottenham.
However, it is likely the Premier League champions will have to sell players to accrue funds to sign both players.
‘Grealish hot property but Villa hold the power’
Sky Sports News’ Kaveh Solhekol:
“Jack Grealish is going to be hot property this summer. Lots of clubs would like to sign him, but he has a long-term contract and Villa do not want to sell him.
“It is unlikely City would sign a striker of the calibre of Kane or Haaland, and Grealish as well. The only way that could happen is if they sold players.
“Do Villa want to sell Grealish? The answer is a resounding no. He’s their captain and has four years left on his contract.
“We know Grealish will be talked a lot about this summer, we know a lot of clubs want to sign him, but in transfer sagas you have to look at who holds the power.
“At the moment, that is Villa. Yes City like him, Guardiola is an admirer, but it’s going to be very difficult to get him.”
What does Grealish offer City?
By Sky Sports’ Adam Smith:
There has been a national clamour for Grealish to start for England after the 25-year-old shone for a second successive season in the Premier League with boyhood club Aston Villa.
Grealish defines a ‘talisman’, but he also possesses exceptional close control, which drew a league-high 110 fouls last term, some 22 more than any other player – a staggering statistic when you consider he missed a third of the season through injury.
If you look closer, in terms of goal creation per 90, Grealish belongs to a ruling class of two: the only player to register superior numbers last season was potential future team-mate Kevin De Bruyne.
What happens to Raheem Sterling if City sign Grealish? Both players prefer operating down the left channel, but the former can also cover up top, while the latter can be used in a No 10 role – so there could be room for both at the club.
The graphic below compares both players against wingers in Europe’s top leagues and emphasises how Grealish was among the elite for assists, big chances created, fast breaks, fouls won and passes in the final third.
But Grealish would also offer City so much more. As the interactive table below shows, no current City attacker comes close to the Villa captain for duels and fouls won, which would further strengthen Guardiola’s customary high press and threat from set-pieces.
Sterling offers a greater goal threat, and De Bruyne is arguably the league’s finest passer, while Grealish blends the best of both but his ability to take on defenders and create pockets of space to exploit is unrivalled.
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