Aston Villa: Free-kick practices makes perfect for Grealish
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Manchester United’s lengthy pursuit of Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish could be set to end in tears with rivals Manchester City now in pole position to land the 25-year-old, according to reports. Grealish has been linked with a big-money switch to Old Trafford since last summer, but the likelihood of such a move appears to be dwindling as the transfer window draws closer.
United were keen on the versatile forward during pre-season but opted to sign Donny van de Beek from Ajax with the hope of revisiting the Villa skipper at a later date.
However, he seems to be edging towards a move to the Etihad Stadium, with Villa not intending to stand in his way according to the Daily Mail.
This would come as a big blow to United, who would need to look elsewhere in order to strengthen their ranks in advance of a renewed Premier League title bid next season.
Grealish is said to be valued at around £100million by Villa, a fee that could be spent wisely to address other areas in need of improvement.
Bruno Fernandes will undoubtedly keep his No 10 berth regardless of the England star’s arrival, suggesting that investment all over the pitch would be a better use of the club’s transfer funds.
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is determined to land a centre-back to partner Harry Maguire in defence, with Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof failing to live up to expectations on the whole since the beginning of the campaign.
Maguire is said to have told club chiefs that he would like an all-English pairing for next season amid rumours linking the Red Devils with Brighton and Hove Albion’s Ben White.
The 23-year-old is comfortable on the ball while possessing all the defensive qualities needed for a top-class centre-back, and could be available for as little as £42m in the summer which represents a significant decrease from Grealish’s nine-figure valuation.
White’s arrival would successfully address a key problem area for United in far stronger need of improvement than the attacking midfield or wide positions.
Another goal for the summer is to strengthen the right-back area by bringing in a suitable understudy to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.
The perfect candidate could arrive in the form of Max Aarons, who has long been linked with a move away from Championship leaders Norwich City as a result of consistently impressive performances.
Although the Canaries would be determined to keep hold of their man if they are promoted this season, money talks and United have more than enough to ask questions of even the most stubborn clubs.
The Norfolk outfit’s resolve could be tested with a bid of around £35m after a £24m offer lodged by Roma was rejected earlier this year.
The final area of concern is at the tip of United’s attacking trident, with Edinson Cavani looking increasingly likely to call time on his spell at the club at the end of the season.
Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland has been tipped to make a sensational move to Old Trafford, but would undoubtedly cost an arm and a leg with his release clause not active until next year.
Despite their reported interest, United are not looking to spend hundreds of millions of pounds this summer and could instead turn their attention to Eintracht Frankfurt star Andre Silva, who may be available for a relatively modest fee.
The Sun claimed last month that the Portuguese marksman will be offered to the Red Devils for around £30m in the event of Cavani’s departure, which could prove to be a shrewd move given Silva’s record in front of goal.
The 25-year-old is second only to Robert Lewandowski in the Bundesliga scoring charts with 19 goals in 23 appearances, and could thrive even further at United with the likes of Fernandes and Marcus Rashford providing the service.
It remains to be seen whether Grealish will join City, make the unlikely move to Old Trafford or stay at Villa for another season or more.
The Birmingham native, who has established himself as one of the Premier League’s best players in recent years, would no doubt infuse Solskjaer’s side with some added star quality that could improve their fortunes at the top of the pitch.
However, if the club were to miss out on his signature this summer, it would not be the end of the world by any stretch and could even prove to be a blessing in disguise.
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