Jack Grealish’s performance against Manchester United went about as badly as it could have done for Aston Villa.
Not only did Grealish fail to help Villa get a result, his display was so disappointing that it can only serve to depreciate his transfer value rather than add to it.
A report in The Mail three weeks ago claimed Villa still want £80 million for Grealish.
This was an ambitious fee pre-pandemic, let alone in this market. Grealish did nothing against United to suggest he was worth anywhere near that.
Grealish had a tough evening against an in-form United and his Villa team just looked to fold after conceding a first half penalty. They lost 3-0, but it could easily have been double that scoreline.
He did register more touches than any Villa player (55), but his quality in possession was poor.
He had two shots at goal which were off target, and he failed to create a single chance, a rarity for him, which also says how well United defended.
His head dropped too. Whether from a helplessness at Villa’s situation, something deeper about his own difficult post-lockdown form, or anxiety about his future and a possible audition going badly, Grealish wilted under pressure.
United hold all the cards
We have seen what Grealish can do previously. He scored an excellent goal in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford in December. This helped inflate his price tag.
Last night’s performance brought Grealish, and Aston Villa back to reality.
There is simply no way United spend anywhere near to £80 million on Grealish this summer. He might be worth only half that.
And then it has to be asked, after that performance, do United really want him?
Yes he is an upgrade on Jesse Lingard, but that can be applied to dozens of footballers. It is hard really not to improve on Lingard’s embarrassing record of 0 goals and 0 assists in 20 Premier League appearances this season.
Ajax star Donny van de Beek is one more reasonably priced alternative to Grealish.
There have been conflicting reports over the past week too as to whether United are even still pushing a move for the Villa man, with The Telegraph reporting he is not a priority, although The Times insist he remains a target.
United are essentially buying a back-up. Grealish does not get into United’s starting XI. Assuming Paul Pogba stays, not guaranteed but hopeful, and you just don’t spend major money on back-up players.
If there is a deal to be done, Villa need to get real. Their hopes of an extravagant fee for Grealish disappeared last night.
Grealish’s Villa are on course to go down. They are in 19th place, four points from safety.
Villa will take what they are offered. Grealish will not want to hang around in the Championship when he has ambitions of making the England squad for 2021.
United hold the cards here. If Grealish had won the game for Villa and made himself a ‘must buy’, then the situation would be different.
Instead, United will set a more reasonable valuation, not go above it, and if it does not suit, the club will simply look elsewhere. The club’s recruitment team have already had extra time over the last few months to further analyse potential signings. There will be a long list of options.
After last night, while admittedly kneejerk, United may be considering whether Grealish is still a target at all, irrespective of a knockdown price.
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