While concrete transfer rumours linking Jack Grealish with Chelsea have not yet surfaced this summer, it does look like it might be a saga to watch out for in the weeks and months ahead.
The Aston Villa star is a top attacking talent and has just enjoyed a superb season in the Premier League, despite his club fighting for their future in the division. Even if Villa manage to stay up, there is surely no way he is staying put, having majorly outgrown his club.
Chelsea may already have signed Hakim Ziyech earlier this year, and the former Ajax man looks an exciting addition to a squad still in need of an Eden Hazard replacement after his departure during their transfer ban last summer, but it seems the Blues have not yet ended their hunt for more attacking midfielders.
The most notable name being linked with Chelsea in that position is Bayer Leverkusen’s exciting young talent Kai Havertz, but this recent update from Sport Bild’s Christian Falk suggests the west London giants could miss out on a deal if they don’t qualify for the Champions League, something which looks far from certain at the moment as their inconsistency and poor defending has allowed Manchester United back into the race…
Update @kaihavertz29 & @ChelseaFC: Havertz wants to leave @bayer04fussball already this summer because the club has not qualified for Champions League. Because of that it would be important for @ChelseaFC to qualify for Champions League to convince him
— Christian Falk (@cfbayern) July 12, 2020
One race Man Utd may be out of, however, is the one to sign Grealish, despite lengthy speculation that he was a top target for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The Telegraph recently suggested that the Red Devils may no longer see the 24-year-old as a priority, which makes sense given the success of January signing Bruno Fernandes, along with the fact that, as the Telegraph claim, they are confident of tying Paul Pogba down to a new contract.
Along with that, it now seems United may in fact be close to another midfield signing in the form of Thiago Alcantara, as mentioned in this snippet from the print edition of Sport, as translated by the Daily Express…
This may not actually leave Grealish with many other options. It’s hard to imagine he’d want a move to a club outside the traditional big six if he stays in England, but Arsenal and Tottenham probably can’t afford him (the Daily Mirror have reported he’d likely cost around £80million), and Man City will perhaps feel they could aim higher, or else place their trust in exciting youngster Phil Foden. Liverpool could perhaps do with a signing to replace free agent Adam Lallana or provide an upgrade on bench-warmer Xherdan Shaqiri, but they’re surely not going to spend £80m on a squad player.
That may well only leave Chelsea if they cannot land Havertz. Blues legend Alan Hudson has previously sung his praises in an exclusive interview with CaughtOffside, saying: “I am his biggest fan. Grealish is the most outstanding attacking midfield player in the game at this moment.
“A player who goes past people and scores goals. The bottom line is Chelsea haven’t got anyone since (Eden) Hazard left who has the fans on the edge of their seats. Jack Grealish would be that man.”
Hudson is not the only one to make the Hazard comparisons, with a potentially key connection – Villa coach and former CFC captain John Terry – having sung his praises recently in an interview on the club’s official site.
“I think he’s similar to Joe Cole and Eden Hazard,” Terry said. “I just think the natural ability he’s got and that Joe Cole had, a god-given talent that not many people are blessed with but he’s certainly got.
“The way he glides past people. He’s quick, but not many people know it – I don’t think he knows how quick he is. He’s a tremendous talent, he gets a lot of fouls in the Championship and now in the Premier League. People don’t know how to stop him.”
Chelsea fans will perhaps hope Terry can have a word with Grealish if he is to leave Villa Park, and it seems the player himself has also spoken to the Blues great about current Chelsea boss Frank Lampard…
"The amount he runs in a game is scary." ?
"He just had everything." ?
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) June 23, 2020
Speaking to BT Sport in the video above, Grealish admitted he speaks to Terry about replicating Lampard’s game from his days as one of the finest midfield players in the world.
“He’s obviously the all-time midfield goalscorer in the Premier League. He was unbelievable,” Grealish said. “I always ask John Terry actually at Villa about little ideas that Lampard had, not base my game on him, but to improve my game. Practising shots, free kicks, which is why he ended up scoring so many goals.”
A Lampard-Hazard hybrid at Chelsea next season? It sounds too good to be true if you’re a Blues supporter, but this may be one to keep an eye on.