Jack Grealish is poised to swap Aston Villa for Manchester City in one of the most high-profile moves of the summer. It may be ‘news’ to some, but those involved in the makings of the deal have been keeping it under wraps for some time.
As we exclusively revealed over a month ago, Man City and Aston Villa have already reached an agreement in principle over the transfer of Grealish’s services.
Grealish has been expecting to become a Man City player for some time now, with the move now expected to go through, much to the dismay of the Aston Villa fanbase.
Villa fans will have held onto hope throughout the Grealish saga that their captain would value his loyalty to the club over his footballing ambitions and financial possibilities.
However, in reality, the club themselves conceded that Grealish would be departing some time ago. The pieces have been in place since the summer of 2020.
Let’s rewind the clock to the coronavirus-disrupted 2019/20 campaign, the season in which Grealish truly established his credentials as a potential leading Premier League player.
Grealish’s natural footballing ability – and notably his ambition with the ball at his feet – were widely recognised from an early age. As for his ability to excel on a consistent basis, at the top level, the jury was still out.
After his return to England’s top-tier, having captained Villa to playoff victory, it was clear that three seasons in the Championship had worked wonders for Grealish.
A more mature, measured and refined footballer and man, Grealish impressed in a side whose Premier League status was only preserved by a Hawk-Eye blunder against Sheffield United.
Upon the season’s completion, Grealish was ready to step up. CaughtOffside understands that the now Etihad-bound midfielder wanted to sign for Manchester United.
CaughtOffside were informed by a close club source that Man United executives Ed Woodward and Matt Judge were both keen to strike a deal for Grealish last summer. The belief was that £80m would have been enough to sign him from Aston Villa.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, though, did not see signing Grealish as a priority. He wanted Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund, a player the club have now acquired, partially due to their decision to pull out and stay out of the running for Grealish.
Grealish went on to sign a new long-term contract with Villa, a faux display of his and the club’s commitment to each other. In reality a release clause did exist in the new deal, with the core details of his eventual exit already being in place at that point in time.
Midway through last season, with Grealish having become a fully-fledged England international and the driving force behind an excelling Aston Villa side, Man City’s interest intensified.
Pep Guardiola sanctioned the departure of Sergio Aguero, whose contract was due to expire at the season’s end, with Grealish and England teammate Harry Kane being identified as the club’s top two transfer targets.
Man City first made contact with Grealish’s camp a couple of months before the end of the season and remained in conversation throughout.
City knew what they had to pay to get a deal for Grealish over the line, with an all-parties agreement having been reached in principle before the transfer window opened.
CaughtOffside understands that Aston Villa did offer Grealish a new contract, but this was some time ago, prior to an agreement being reached over his sale to Man City.
A close club source informed CaughtOffside in June of the deal which was in place, with official announcement, pending the final signatures and the completion of a medical, to be announced at some point after Euro 2020.
CaughtOffside can also reveal that Grealish will bank an eye-watering £360,000 per week upon signing for Man City, a wage which will make him the third-best player in the Premier League.
The extraordinary finances involved in the deal to sign Grealish are testament to how highly he’s rated by those pulling the strings at Man City, with there clearly being a belief that he can develop even further under Guardiola’s stewardship.
It’s also understood that Grealish’s arrival at Man City leaves any deal to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham looking highly unlikely. Perhaps that situation could change if City were to move on any high-value players, but at this point in time, it’s a no-go.
Barring any unprecedented turnaround of events, Grealish to Man City will be officially announced in due course.
On the surface of it, it may appear to be a deal which has been conducted swiftly, but in reality the groundwork for the transfer has been laid for some time, with the wheels now being put into motion.
A move to City is a significant forward stride in Grealish’s career and will aid his ambitions to compete for major honours and become a starter for his country.
Of course, with the scrutiny which comes to a move to the Premier League champions – and the price-tag associated – there will be pressure, but Grealish is just the kind of unflappable character who will thrive on that.
Now’s the time for him to show the footballing world what he’s really capable of.