With Manchester United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho dominating the headlines, most people have forgotten about Jack Grealish. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still wants the Aston Villa star, believing he can offer a dimension to his attack. And with the 24-year-old capable of playing both centrally and out wide, he could solve two issues at once.
Manchester United initially wanted to sign James Maddison from Leicester this summer.
However, towards the end of last season, Solskjaer became increasingly sold on the prospect of recruiting Grealish from Aston Villa instead.
The 24-year-old was a shining light for Dean Smith’s side amid a tough Premie League campaign, scoring eight goals and registering six assists from 36 matches.
For Solksjaer, his leadership is a positive.
Though Grealish has had come controversial moments throughout his career he’s a valuable asset for Villa and skippered them throughout a season that, at one point, looked destined to end in relegation.
Furthermore, United are impressed by Grealish’s pace and skill while on the ball.
They feel the Villa star is capable of taking the ball up the pitch quicker than most players, hence interest in bringing him to Old Trafford.
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But another reason why United could be pursuing the Villa star this transfer window is because of his versatility, with the 24-year-old capable of playing in both midfield and on the flanks.
Last term, his willingness to adapt to where Smith wanted him to play helped him keep the club in the Premier League.
Data from Wyscout shows that he sent the majority of his time operating centrally, dropping deep to pull the strings in the middle of the park.
He did that for 26 per cent of the time, also spending 19 per cent of his matches playing behind a lone striker at the tip of Smith’s Villa attack.
United like that about Grealish. They believe that, should they recruit the Villa star, they’d have signed a substantial upgrade on Jesse Lingard – who scored just one Premier League goal all season.
But Grealish is also capable of playing out wide.
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He spent 12 per cent operating far forward in Smith’s side, often cutting in on his right foot to create a chance for a team-mate or have a pop at goal.
And with United needing signings in both midfield and attack, Grealish could actually be two signings in one go.
The problem at the moment is Villa’s asking price, with the club demanding a huge £75million in order to let their prized asset go.
But United are hopeful of lessening their resolve with a swap deal, with the likes of Sergio Romero and Lingard potentially of interest.
Meanwhile, Red Devils legend Ryan Giggs opened up on both Sancho and Grealish – and urged his old side to sign both players this summer.
“Two good players,” he said.
“I think the thing with Grealish is he’s obviously used to the Premier League and doesn’t need to adapt to it so that’s good.
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“For me from the outside, it looks like he’s got the mentality to come to this place and not bother him. Certain players can get overawed.
“Also, the good thing this year is he’s got ten goals and got into double figures so that would be one question mark I would have had with him: does he score enough goals? To get to double figures with no penalties for Villa is impressive.
“Sancho is quick, direct but also an intelligent player.
“What I like about him is when he gets into them areas with the final ball, he doesn’t panic. A lot of quick wide players sometimes do but he picks out the right pass.
“He’s someone who can counter-attack if we’re going to play that but also if a team are going to sit back, he can beat players and make things happen.
“They are two signings that may be available and if we’re able to get them, I would go and get them.”
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