The club’s pursuit of Jack Grealish will come as a surprise to some. The 22-year old is though a prestigious young talent, and he has the flair and talent to excite if he does move to us this summer.
His development as a young player has been difficult one. He rose to prominence under Tim Sherwood originally but he fell out with his successor Remi Garde, and his professionalism has been questioned at times.
Things didn’t start to really click for Jack until a very serious injury nine months ago. In a pre-season friendly against Watford, a tackle by Tom Cleverley, which seemed innocuous at the time, actually left him with severe kidney damage. The organ had split in two places and he suffered internal bleeding that lasted for five hours. Before the surgery, he was told by the surgeon that he could die if the operation wasn’t successful. Being told that shocked the midfielder. He told the Mirror last month:
“I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason. I came back from that injury a different person. I thought about how everything could be taken away from you in such a short space of time. I worked so hard to come back because I missed football. I wanted to be the best I could be.”
That newfound desire and commitment really showed on his return to action in the second half of last season. Part of his desire was to repay the faith of Steve Bruce who had visited the midfielder regularly in hospital during his recovery, and his passion for Villa also made him their talisman as they made it to the playoff final.
His style of play is old-fashioned in many ways. He plays with his socks down and loves to dribble out of danger into space. Although not a prolific goalscorer, he has begun to make more assists, with eight in total last season.
Part of that is down to the position he plays. Early in his career, he was invariably used on the left wing, but over the past couple of seasons, he has begun to be used exclusively as a number ten.
Our interest is likely to be as a result of seeking an understudy to Christian Eriksen. The Dane played in 47 matches last season, and Grealish could help to share the workload a bit more.
The talent has always been there, and with his new found maturity, it seems that the club thinks he is worth the outlay. With the Villans in financial crisis though, we could be looking to exploit the situation with a low bid. Daniel Levy is said to be eyeing a £15m offer for the attacking midfielder; a long way below Villa’s reported £40m price tag.
If we do get the midfielder, he would be another young English talent that Mauricio Pochettino could look to mould into a top-drawer player.