So we wake up and it’s all Grealish to City like it’s a done deal. And apparently United want Jack, John McGinn, or both, and most definitely can’t afford that.
It winds me up a bit, like it probably does most every other Villan. Click-bait? Certainly. But I’m sort of duty bound to take the bait and give them traffic so I can see what’s being endlessly recycled. And I feel obligated to sort through it. Again.
So. What are we to make of all this talk?
McGinn’s the easier one to answer. I could see us letting him go and making a very tidy profit. But not until we have at least one new MF terrier lined up. He’s a beloved player in the set-up, no doubt, but as we’ve seen, he’s been very up and down since coming back from injury. I can’t say enough good things about his character and attitude, love him. But I’ve already wondered aloud whether he’s got enough for us going forward. It’s not just losing possession or wayward passes. That’s form, I think. I’m more concerned about his pace and overall athleticism. And if I’m thinking about that through a Villa lens, makes it a little hard to see how he’s going to make United better. But I’m not a continental genius.
When it comes to the much more important question of Jack, I’ve no idea what to make of the “Jack’s friends say…” kind of stories. Could be true, could be utter tripe. As to waiting until after the Euros to make a decision? Kind of hard to see Jack putting the club in that position later in the summer. But, maybe discussions have been had and they’re all preparing for that. Could be that these “leaks” are a way for Jack to let the club know. Or, “subtle” pressure for them to keep adding.
Me, I can’t say what would’ve changed in Jack’s mind since penning the new deal, being committed to the plan and leading Villa forward. Maybe would be Pep’s supposed insistence. Maybe City failing at the final hurdle again, and Jack coming in to get them over line with a CL final undoubtedly on the cards as soon as he arrives. I can’t help but wonder, though, how much joy would be in it for Jack. Yes, it’s the biggest stage and the biggest piece of silverware. All hugely tempting. But it also feels a bit hollow to me. Not my ambition or decision to make, though. He’d be an instant world-class star if everything lined up for him.
I find myself agreeing with Stan Petrov in still thinking Jack stays another year, though, and I don’t know that I see Compass or Smith & Co. wanting Silva as a makeweight. Perhaps it’s a “ready-made” solution, but it doesn’t excite me. Also not sure that Silva, Sterling, or Mahrez would want to come, insofar as being dangled as bait is a “rejection” from City, and, at the moment, an admitted step down off the European stage for them. Mahrez is a silky scorer, but we’re lining up almost as potent an attack.
I’d think if Compass are considering selling, they’d stick to a very high all-cash price to use on players we select. I don’t believe they’re looking to cash in, but £100m—£130m might do it. Maybe Emi is good enough to carry the load as his successor straight away, and the windfall could buy up some outstanding talent to go with him. That windfall would be late in the window, though. Unless, of course, Compass are planning around it.
As it stands right now, Jack is the club. I still think he has to ask for a move for anything to happen. We hear about a purported release clause, but again, it would be up to Jack. Makeweights don’t make sense unless the release is rather high.
Given that Jack is the club, at the moment, I’d think Compass and everyone else would probably like a year for everything to gel before selling. After all, did Buendia come thinking he’d be the man, or because he knew Villa were going places and Jack was a big selling point? If he’s making a step up, how big a step is it if Villa lose their star man? Or is he sold on the idea of being the next Grealish? Was it just the paycheck?
Further, since he can play wide, his addition doesn’t necessarily equate to being Jack’s immediate replacement. And since Jack’s been playing off the left, and even The Special One likes him there, there’s room in the middle for our second Emi. In short, “you can’t play them in the same side,” is silly.
To me, the only way selling makes sense is if Compass see his departure as inevitable, and want to cash in while his stock is maybe the highest it will ever be. Especially if he shines in the Euros.
On the other hand, if you’re wanting Europe, hardly makes sense to sell the best midfielder in the PL besides KDB as you’re making your push. And they are keeping their promise to surround Jack with talent.
I also wouldn’t be surprised if Compass dig in their heels simply for not being ‘bullied’ by City. Also wouldn’t be surprised if they offer Jack a new deal and bump him up to superstar money.
If you’re thinking like the Big Boys and want to move into the penthouse, you don’t let them set you back by poaching your best player unless you have a plan to make them regret it. We can look to the purported Ward-Prowse situation and say that’s the same thing. And it is. But again, JWP is going to have to ask for a move. And maybe he is prepared to do that.
All that said, Compass aren’t stupid, and they will be looking at it through a dispassionate business lens. It all comes down to whether they think selling Jack propels the club forward.
It also depends on whether and how Jack might ask. Compass might say no. Compass might say, “You can go next year if we don’t get Europe.” Given his attachment to the club, I can’t see him being truly disgruntled by giving it one more go. I also wouldn’t begrudge him a move. He deserves to shine, and I believe the world will finally get to see that in the Euros if Southgate doesn’t outsmart himself. I just want him to shine at Villa along with everyone else.
Right now, it looks as though NWSE are addressing the midfield and aiming to assemble a frightening squad going forward. If the business comes off, Villa might stand a very good chance of taking aim at Liverpool, for example. Naturally, there are other contenders looking to do the same thing, and a couple have a slight leg up on us. But Villa will have the advantage of not playing extra midweek games, and have already made a serious addition in quality. We have no reason to believe Compass are done.
So, these are the stories we can expect all summer long and I shouldn’t get wound up. But I hate having that little doubt in my mind as the club are making strides and really looking to challenge. Here’s hoping Jack sees it the same way.
Over to you.