With the summer fast approaching, Aston Villa would be just as concerned about returning to the Premier League as keeping hold of skipper Jack Grealish. Yet again, the playmaker is attracting interest from Tottenham. Villa must resist despite high odds on him leaving by betting site.
The Villans showed courage last summer, turning blind eyes to Spurs’ mega offer for Grealish. Villa rejected £25million, outrightly telling them he is not for sale. The youngster, though, reportedly had his mind fixed on moving to North London. He was said to be “disillusioned” by the decision.
One month after, Grealish signed a new five-year contract despite having two more years left on the previous. If anything, it proved the midfielder had gotten over the Spurs episode.
For the most part of his young career, Grealish epitomized an overhyped, pampered lad unable to reach his true potentials. However, in the last couple of years, the 23-year-old has managed to change that ugly perception.
When Aston Villa visited Birmingham City a few weeks ago, much of the talk was about Grealish. Although the fury, animosity and hatred between these Midlands neighbours are usually intense, the Irish-born Englishman added a pinch of salt. He was the target of the home fans.
No surprise one took to the pitch to attack the 23-year-old. Less than 10 minutes into the encounter, during a dead period of play, the fan charged Grealish and landed a punch that hit the side of the player’s head. A steward made his way shortly, as were a few of Grealish’s teammates.
Despite the emotions, it was the Three Lions hopeful that made the difference in the 66th minute. Grealish received a pass just outside his opponent’s penalty box and made a quick stutter-step move before firing off its way through all of Birmingham’s defence and goalkeeper.
Grealish’s performance typifies maturity. He is no longer that overrated youngster with nothing to show. Now 23, the midfielder is matured, shouldering more responsibilities without being soaked in emotions. Although the raw talent was never in doubt, he never really utilized them.
Against Birmingham, he showcased an ability to weave through a congested midfield, to ride challenge after challenge and keep pushing the ball straight through the heart of the opposition. Grealish was omnipresent. His goal was a thing of beauty.
Grealish is thriving with the extra burden of wearing the captain armband. It’s no surprise to see at the heart of their recent turnaround in form.
Villa is currently sixth in the Championship table – one point behind Bristol City after winning their last five consecutive matches. Grealish made three-goal contributions, including the match winner at Birmingham. In 26 Championship games, he racked up nine goal contributions (4 goals, 5 assists).
The 23-year-old has an opportunity to lead his boyhood club back to the Premier League. His impressive dribbling ability and passing range would be crucial as he is allowed to roam free with the ball.
Whether or not the Villans achieve Premier League promotion, they must hold on to Grealish, at least for another year.