Manchester United are expected to make their move (via The Athletic) for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish this summer.
With doubts over Paul Pogba’s future at Old Trafford, the midfielder fits the profile of the club’s new transfer recruitment philosophy of bringing young, British talents to the club, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer adding Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James to the squad last summer.
The 24-year-old looks likely to leave his boyhood club, who currently find themselves in the relegation zone. The Red Devils could capitalise on Villa’s unfortunate position, having identified him as one of their main targets, along with Borussia Dortmund wonder-kid Jadon Sancho.
Story so far this season
Manchester United will benefit if Villa are unable to avoid relegation. The latter are suffering from serious financial implications, after spending excessively (£143.19m) this season. Since being in the Premier League, the club have demanded an inflated transfer fee for their captain, but relegation would no doubt effect their standpoint.
Speaking on the field, Grealish has starred in Aston Villa’s return to the top flight, scoring seven goals and providing six assists in his twenty-six league appearances.
He also helped Villa earn a place in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium, scoring two goals and assisting two goals in the competition. The Englishman looks to be entering that pivotal stage of his career to take his game to the next level, whilst his side looks almost certain to go back down.
Bolstering options in the middle
If Paul Pogba remains with the club, it would be difficult to see where Grealish exactly fits into United’s system. However, Grealish is a versatile player who can play on the right-wing as well as centrally, which will give the club’s coaching staff some added flexibility.
Being able to rotate the squad is a luxury that the squad haven’t had in recent seasons, and Grealish would be an upgrade on the underperforming duo of Jesse Lingard and Andreas Pereira.
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Should United opt to sell Pogba in the summer, the signing of Grealish becomes an instant replacement. The Englishman would be able to slot into that left channel of the midfield three and create a quality partnership alongside Bruno Fernandes, who has transformed the team since arriving from Sporting Lisbon.
Fits the profile
Grealish meets most of the criteria to become a critical part of United’s quest to win their 21st domestic league title, with the midfielder ticking most of the boxes for United’s recruitment policy.
The midfielder is at the ideal age between 22-27 to become a part of Solskjaer’s rebuild with the Englishman yet to enter the peak of his career. It has been reported that an integral aspect of the manager’s recruitment policy is to attract players to the club that are arrogant and have an ‘X-factor’ when they pull on the United jersey, but are also humble and respectful characters off the pitch.
Although Grealish has been involved in off-field incidents, which is concerning for any club looking to sign the silky playmaker, this is one aspect of the individual that must change if he intends to move on to a bigger club.
Ultimately, United would have done their due diligence on Grealish before identifying him as a transfer target for the summer. Since the permanent appointment of Solskjaer, the culture at Manchester United has changed for the better, with the club paying due to their most valuable traditions.
It is crucial that Grealish is the correct fit in terms of culture for United, for them to continue and progress towards becoming title challengers once again.
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