Almost every transfer story has a side story where things could’ve been very different if a club’s initial plan succeeded, so it’s always interesting to think about how things would’ve played out.
It’s now well known that Bruno Fernandes’ arrival was a catalyst in Man United’s turnaround in form over the last year, but a report from ESPN has suggested he wasn’t actually their first choice.
It’s believed that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer actually instructed Ed Woodward to approach Aston Villa to sign Jack Grealish instead, but they weren’t able to agree terms and that led to the deal going ahead to sign the Portuguese star instead.
It’s possibly one of those rare stories where things actually worked out perfectly for all sides, as both Grealish and Aston Villa have undoubtedly benefitted from him staying.
You can reasonably argue that Villa would’ve gone done without him, while they’ve really kicked on this season by adding further quality and relegation doesn’t look like a genuine threat at all.
As for Grealish, he also looks like he’s improved and matured to the point that he’s a consistent threat in every game rather than showing flashes here and there, so there’s no doubt that he belongs at the top level.
It’s also worth remembering that Man United were in a pretty poor position this time last year – They struggled to score and they were struggling to get into the top four, so at that point it may have been too big a step for Grealish to take.
He was struggling a bit with some personal stories in the press and the last thing he needed was to suddenly find himself being blamed for Man United’s failings as well if he didn’t instantly shine at Old Trafford.
Only Solskjaer and Woodward will know what their priorities were last January, but you can be sure they wouldn’t change their choice now.