Dean Smith: Aston Villa Want to Keep Jack Grealish Amid Manchester United Links

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistFebruary 16, 2020

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Tottenham Hotspur at Villa Park on February 16, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images)
Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA/Getty Images

Jack Grealish may be drawing admiring glances from Manchester United, but Aston Villa boss Dean Smith wants the player to stay in the Midlands beyond this season.

Smith outlined how Villa can keep hold of their star man, per Neil Moxley of the Sunday People (h/t Mirror):

"We've got two magnificent owners who want this club to be successful. They have got an awful lot of money which they’ve earned through their hard work in their businesses.

"They know that if you want to be a successful team you have to keep your best players. They will be working very hard to make sure our best players stop at this football club. That's the best answer I can give about Jack."

It's an ambitious statement, but the plan may be an unrealistic one, especially after Villa lost 3-2 at home to Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday. The defeat has left Smith's team in 17th, just one point and one place above the bottom three.

To make matters worse, West Ham United have played a game less. If the Hammers can avoid defeat away to Manchester City on Wednesday, Villa will be in the relegation zone.

The sorry state of affairs makes keeping Grealish all the more difficult. Villa's classy No. 10 is enjoying an exceptional personal season, despite his team's struggles.

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Grealish assisted Villa's second goal against Spurs when his 53rd-minute corner was headed in by Bjorn Engels. The contribution boosted already impressive numbers for a player who must be in the reckoning for a place in Gareth Southgate's England squad for this summer's UEFA Euro 2020 tournament:

Those numbers also explain why United are being heavily linked with Grealish. Moxley dubbed the 24-year-old the Red Devils' "number one summer target in the past few weeks and there have also been links to Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona."

Grealish is said to view Old Trafford as his preferred destination, according to Dan King of the Sun. King also noted how Villa would require as much as £60 million to consider parting ways with their creative talisman.

Convincing Villa to sell would help United step up a necessary overhaul of their midfield. The club has already started the process after spending an initial £47 million to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting CP during the January transfer window.

Fernandes made a positive impression on his debut during a 0-0 home draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this month:

Grealish would add some much-needed flair, vision and trickery to Fernandes' industry. In the process, the England man may make it easier for United to part company with Paul Pogba.

The Frenchman wants to return to Juventus, according to his agent, Mino Raiola, per the Guardian's Fabrizio Romano. If Pogba moves on, United will need some artistry between the midfield and forward lines, a quality Grealish would naturally provide.