Jack Grealish has given Manchester United a dilemma
It seemed like Manchester United’s pursuit of Jack Grealish was over with the summer arrival of Donny van de Beek, but that might just have to change.
It’s understood the Dutch midfielder wasn’t quite seen as a direct alternative to the Aston Villa captain yet the similarities are certainly still there. Both were admired as United looked to add some attacking reinforcement to a midfield rejuvenated by the talismanic Bruno Fernandes, yet it is an issue which still remains.
Van de Beek remains on the periphery at Old Trafford with his place on the bench at Goodison Park over the weekend confirmation of his current back-up status in the squad, even if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insists his chances will come as the season continues.
In essence Van de Beek’s arrival has been accelerated to ensure United are well placed should Paul Pogba leave next summer, while the resurgence of Juan Mata has also helped the cause despite his obvious limitations.
As things stand there is no real need for United to sign a new attacking option next year but those priorities could increase should they either sell Pogba or if Mata does not stay beyond his contract expiration next June. If that were to happen then Grealish would surely find himself on their transfer radar once again.
The 25-year-old featured on United’s list of potential recruits during the last transfer window and he was admired at Old Trafford, but the MEN understands there were no discussions with Villa during the summer over a deal.
It is believed there was uncertainty over where Grealish would fit into Solskjaer’s side after he began last season in an advanced midfield role at Villa before moving to the left of a front three, a position which is already well catered for.
There is also the issue of finance with Villa having valued their captain at an eye-watering £80million, a fee which United had no intention of paying for a player who wouldn’t have been guaranteed a first-team spot straightaway.
Yet by the next summer transfer window Grealish might no longer be viewed as squad filler but as an essential first-team asset with his performances at Villa Park reaching a level which has not been seen by him before in the top-flight.
Grealish took his season tally to five goals and five assists in Villa’s thumping win over Arsenal at the weekend, the perfect accompaniment for his newly-established senior England squad status.
United made it clear they would look to sign the best homegrown talent as part of their ongoing cultural rest under Solskjaer, it means they won’t be able to ignore someone as impressive as Grealish while that criteria remains in play.
Under the guidance of Dean Smith it looks like Villa could achieve something special this season, with Grealish the catalyst for his boyhood club it could also act as the perfect send-off should he captain them to some silverware.
His value will only continue to rise with each glowing display while his performances at the European Championships next summer could sky-rocket his transfer valuation into the nine figure bracket.
It might not be a priority to sign another attacking star right now, but if Pogba were to leave then United would already know the perfect signing to help ease such a loss.