November 23, 2020

Manchester United have been handed Jack Grealish transfer ultimatum – Manchester Evening News

https://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/sport/football/transfer-news/jack-grealish-man-utd-transfer-19286138

With all due respect to Aston Villa, you could not have watched Jack Grealish’s performance for England against Belgium on Sunday night and thought that this was a non ‘big six’ player.

It is a sign of the balance and intrigue of the Premier League this season that one of its most spellbinding footballers is playing for a team who, last season, were favourites to be relegated. The long and short of this? That Grealish belongs in the Champions League, in a side competing for league titles. That Grealish is among the league’s very finest and there can be few arguments about it.

Gareth Southgate’s side were unfortunate to find themselves 2-0 down in Belgium, but thereafter the game was dominated by Grealish, starting his first competitive game for the Three Lions. He overshadowed everyone, even Man City’s Premier League king Kevin de Bruyne and substitute Jadon Sancho, a would-be Premier League star of the future and fellow Manchester United transfer target.


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It is clear to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was so keen on the idea of United signing Grealish in the summer. The Norwegian made his admiration of the player palpably clear after a 2-2 draw with Villa last December in which Grealish had shone brighter than any United player and was dubbed “the best player on the pitch” by Solskjaer.

A reflection of Grealish’s enduring quality is the fact Bruno Fernandes is the only United star currently matching the Villa captain for goals and assists this season.

The MEN reported back in February that United had stepped up their interest in Grealish and he overtook fellow countryman James Maddison in the club’s transfer thoughts as the summer window drew nearer. Yet Villa rightly put a high price on their skipper, who is unlikely to kick up a fuss and demand to leave, such is his love for his boyhood club.

When the 25-year-old put pen to paper on a new five-year contract at Villa Park in September, it virtually ended the saga and United had snapped up Donny van de Beek by then in any case.

“It is my club, my home and I am very happy here,” said a smiling Grealish. “The owners have made it very clear to me how ambitious they are and how they want to build Aston Villa. There are exciting times ahead and I am very glad to be part of it.”

Signing the Ajax player for an initial £35million fee, likely less than half it would have cost to prise Grealish from Villa, was indeed a smart move. Many believe Van de Beek, despite a slow start, will grow into an important player at Old Trafford and has been touted as Paul Pogba’s long-term heir.

But with each Grealish performance, seemingly getting better with every game he plays this season, there is the growing sense that somebody will swoop next summer. There is no reason why it should not be United. Grealish possesses all the attributes they want in a player: outstanding natural talent, a terrific work ethic on the pitch and a swagger that is almost unique to him, which borders on arrogance — the good kind.

United entered the international break by winning what was arguably their most important match of the season at Everton on Saturday.

The under-pressure Reds came from behind to beat the Toffees thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ double and Edinson Cavani’s first goal for United.

United have a two-week break with many of their stars heading off on international duty – we’ll be keeping tabs on how they all perform, and on preparations for their next Premier League match against West Brom.

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It took everyone a fair bit of time to realise Grealish’s true ability. Let’s not forget he was playing in the Championship 18 months ago. Gareth Southgate was initially reluctant to include him in his England side but now says he’s “100 per cent” up the pecking order for the Three Lions.

But United have liked him for some time and there’s no way they should break their gaze now.

Next summer may offer up an ultimatum when it comes to Grealish; a possible choice between him and their long-time target Sancho. Or a choice whether to keep Pogba or try and sign the Midlander.

Grealish’s latest wondershow may well have told United what their answer should be.