Manchester City have stepped up their pursuit of Jack Grealish by opening negotiations with Aston Villa. The England playmaker is a key target for City, along with Tottenham’s Harry Kane, and a decision on whether a deal can be struck is expected within days.
Villa are keen to hold on to Grealish and have offered the 25-year-old a new contract. They intend to stand firm and build their team around him but their resolve will be tested if Grealish tells his boyhood club he wants to leave and City come up with a satisfactory fee. The asking price would likely be at least £100m.
Grealish turns 26 in September and must decide whether he is patient enough to continue at Villa, who have improved each season under Dean Smith and this summer indicated their desire to push for a place in Europe by spending £30m on Emi Buendía and bidding for Arsenal’s Emile Smith Rowe. That offer was rejected and Smith Rowe has since signed a new contract.
Grealish knows City offer a route into the Champions League and a likely guarantee of trophies. City have won the Premier League in three of the past four seasons, secured the FA Cup in 2019 and their run of four successive Carabao Cup triumphs included a victory against a Villa team containing Grealish in the 2020 final.
City’s desire to improve the attacking potential of a formidable squad has prompted them to identify Grealish and Kane as their primary targets. Tottenham rejected a City bid for Kane, worth at least £100m, last month and maintain they have no plans to sell Grealish’s England colleague.
Kane has made clear his desire to leave and indicated he would welcome a transfer to City, describing the service provided by Kevin De Bruyne as “a striker’s dream”.
Pep Guardiola has spoken in the past of his admiration for Grealish, describing him in 2019 as “incredible” and “a top player … who always creates something”. At that point City’s manager said Grealish was too expensive for his club but they are exploring now whether a deal can be done.