Alex McLeish has revealed Manchester United almost poached Jack Grealish from Aston Villa during his academy days for just £200,000.
The Red Devils are keen to lure the Villa playmaker away from his boyhood club this summer.
And any potential deal would cost United a hefty sum, likely to be at least around the £60m mark.
Villa are fighting to survive in the Premier League, with Grealish key to their hopes of staying up, while they are also preparing for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City.
The 24-year-old is expected to make Gareth Southgate’s England squad for Euro 2020 and his stock continues to rise.
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It makes it all the more significant that Villa managed to keep him during McLeish’s days at the helm.
The Scot was in charge at Villa Park between 2011 and 2012, and he immediately knew Grealish could not be lost to one of the Premier League’s elite sides.
United missed their chance to land him as the club forked out to keep the academy talent, and it proved to be a huge call.
McLeish told the Mirror : “Bryan told me Jack's contract was coming up and he was getting courted by Man United.
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“All the heads of department at Aston Villa discussed it in a meeting and I agreed with Bryan Jones 100 % that we had to keep him.
“Maybe it was unprecedented money we were giving to an academy kid.
“But it has turned out to be a great bit of business for Aston Villa.
“I used to go down and watch the academy games and he was a precocious young talent and something you treasure.
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“He stood out and wore his socks down even then.
“I remember his dad came in my office and we said we would do everything we could to make Jack happy and stay at Aston Villa.
“We concocted getting him on the bench against Chelsea just to give him a taste.
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“But the next month on the same day the first team were at Old Trafford Jack and an agent were seen at Rio Ferdinand's restaurant that night.
“I am sure Jack was really happy being wanted by other massive teams but you knew his heart was at Villa.
“It was just a case of sorting out a suitable package.”
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