Jack Grealish: Man City open talks with Aston Villa over England midfielder

Aston Villa don't want to sell their captain, and have offered him a new and improved contract to try to persuade him that his future lies at Villa Park; he still has four years left on his existing deal, which was signed in September. 

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Rob Dorsett reports Manchester City have opened talks with Aston Villa over a potential transfer for captain Jack Grealish

Manchester City have opened talks with Aston Villa over the potential signing of Jack Grealish.

Sky Sports News has been told City made their initial approach several days ago, and lines of communication remain open.

Villa don't want to sell Grealish, and have offered him a new and improved contract to try to persuade him that his future lies at Villa Park - despite having four years left on his existing deal which was only signed in September.

The club are adamant they want to build their team around him with Dean Smith's summer recruitment plans - having already signed Emi Buendia and Ashley Young - based on players who will play with Grealish, not in place of him.

Much depends now on whether City are prepared to meet Villa's valuation of the England international - expected to be around £100m - and whether Grealish himself tells Villa that he wants to move to the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola is a keen admirer of the 25-year-old and have also been linked with Grealish's England team-mate Harry Kane and have already had one £100m bid rejected by Tottenham.

However, it is likely the Premier League champions will have to sell players to accrue funds to sign both players.

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Take a look back at all 15 of Jack Grealish's Premier League goals so far as the Aston Villa captain prepares to face Germany with his England teammates.

'Grealish hot property but Villa hold the power'

Sky Sports News' Kaveh Solhekol:

"Jack Grealish is going to be hot property this summer. Lots of clubs would like to sign him, but he has a long-term contract and Villa do not want to sell him.

"It is unlikely City would sign a striker of the calibre of Kane or Haaland, and Grealish as well. The only way that could happen is if they sold players.

"Do Villa want to sell Grealish? The answer is a resounding no. He's their captain and has four years left on his contract.

"We know Grealish will be talked a lot about this summer, we know a lot of clubs want to sign him, but in transfer sagas you have to look at who holds the power.

"At the moment, that is Villa. Yes City like him, Guardiola is an admirer, but it's going to be very difficult to get him."

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What does Grealish offer City?

By Sky Sports' Adam Smith:

There has been a national clamour for Grealish to start for England after the 25-year-old shone for a second successive season in the Premier League with boyhood club Aston Villa.

Grealish defines a 'talisman', but he also possesses exceptional close control, which drew a league-high 110 fouls last term, some 22 more than any other player - a staggering statistic when you consider he missed a third of the season through injury.

If you look closer, in terms of goal creation per 90, Grealish belongs to a ruling class of two: the only player to register superior numbers last season was potential future team-mate Kevin De Bruyne.

What happens to Raheem Sterling if City sign Grealish? Both players prefer operating down the left channel, but the former can also cover up top, while the latter can be used in a No 10 role - so there could be room for both at the club.

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The graphic below compares both players against wingers in Europe's top leagues and emphasises how Grealish was among the elite for assists, big chances created, fast breaks, fouls won and passes in the final third.

But Grealish would also offer City so much more. As the interactive table below shows, no current City attacker comes close to the Villa captain for duels and fouls won, which would further strengthen Guardiola's customary high press and threat from set-pieces.

Sterling offers a greater goal threat, and De Bruyne is arguably the league's finest passer, while Grealish blends the best of both but his ability to take on defenders and create pockets of space to exploit is unrivalled.

Grealish's X-factor and his special appeal

Sky Sports' Peter Smith…

"Aston Villa supporters have been hailing him for years, celebrating a special talent which had emerged from their youth ranks. It took some time for fans of other clubs to get on board but Jack Grealish and his X-factor has won over all the judges now. At Euro 2020, the sound of England supporters cheering his warm-ups and chanting his name, urging Gareth Southgate to throw him into the action, was the perfect illustration of that.

"He appeared for just 137 minutes at that tournament but he was a major story throughout. His two assists and cameos off the bench were a tantalising glimpse of what England had in the locker and drove the conversation about how they should attack.

"It is that enticing, exciting game-changing potential which makes him such hot property.

"Inside Wembley this summer, the change in approach from opposition defenders when he came into the game was clear to see. They dropped deeper. They doubled up. They looked nervous and wary of what might come next. It's a growing trend we've seen in the Premier League and Grealish's skill, Grealish's reputation has now earned international respect, too.

"That tantalising possibility of what Grealish could do at the top end of the Premier League or in the Champions League is clearly a question being pondered at Manchester City. The great Pep Guardiola attracted by the potential of greatness from Grealish.

"But those deep Villa roots mean Grealish won't be easy to prise away from his hometown club. His iconic status there would be enhanced if he stayed on. It's a pivotal moment in his career and, just like during the Euros, there is real intrigue with what he does next."

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