Jack Grealish has complicated matters regarding a potential transfer this summer after he was caught after a party despite the UK coronavirus lockdown rules, so should Manchester United still look at the Aston Villa man, or go elsewhere?
Aston Villa captain Grealish was left red-faced following a breach of the isolation rules this weekend.
There are also claims he crashed his £80,000 Range Rover into parked cars.
Police are looking into the incident and he has been fined by his club to the tune of two weeks wages.
This is not Grealish’s first controversial incident and it may harm his international prospects, and even a future transfer.
Manchester United have been sniffing around the £60m-rated 24-year-old, but they may be put off.
Our reporters take a look at the situation and offer their advice to United, or any other potential suitor.
COMMENT: Jack Grealish let himself and his country down with latest antics
25 years ago yesterday, one of Manchester United’s players who Sir Alex Ferguson was told was too much trouble to sign was being given 120 hours community service having been found guilty of assault.
He was trouble at Marseille, trouble briefly at Sheffield Wednesday and trouble at Leeds. Yet without Eric Cantona, United may have had to wait a good few years long to lift that elusive title.
Jack Grealish is not Eric Cantona, and ultimately that is the problem. If he offered the last spark of genius Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needed to add to the project, it would be worth the risk.
However, he is in grave danger of becoming another former Manchester United player entirely. A Lee Sharpe. A player with prodigious talent, a love of partying, but sadly too much tendency towards self-destruction…
Best leave Grealish well alone.
- Jack Grealish: Aston Villa ace ‘deeply embarrassed’ after incident
Trouble off the field for footballers tends to be a temporary setback in their careers — certainly if the talent is dazzling enough.
The better they are, the more likely it is that episodes of poor behaviour will be quietly forgotten with the passing of time.
In the specific case of Jack Grealish and a transfer to Manchester United in the summer, other factors will be more significant than his folly in going to a late-night party in this time of lockdown and social distancing.
How good is he? How much does he cost? Will he suit our style of play? Will he be value for money? These will be the crucial questions at Old Trafford.
United are being linked with a dizzying number of transfer targets right now, among them Jadon Sancho (£120m), Harry Kane (£120m), Saul Niguez (£135m), James Maddison (£75m) and Jude Bellingham (£30m).
These are all surely higher priorities than Grealish — and if the financial numbers are anywhere near accurate, there won’t be extra cash for the Aston Villa player as well if a couple of these are acquired amid stiff European competition.
It’s hard to determine whether Manchester United should end their interest on an admittedly talented footballer because of an incident that took place off the pitch.
However, it is important to remember that United are not only a club famous for their glorious past but also because of their strict philosophy that is based on professionalism, loyalty and discipline.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wants to take a page out of Sir Alex Ferguson’s book and build the team around young English talent, and Grealish would indeed fit that profile.
However, the Aston Villa star’s behaviour could see him falling out of favour as United are keeping a close eye on other young English forwards.
And with the Old Trafford outfit willing to splash over £100million for Borussia Dortmund star Jadon Sancho, then surely there will be no need to sign Grealish in the summer.
It feels only right that there should be collateral damage for Jack Grealish to deal with in addition to likely insurance claims after his difficulty negotiating parked cars in Solihull on Sunday.
Certainly neither his own mealy-mouthed apology nor a fine of £150,000 from Aston Villa for a player who earns nearly £4million per year seems likely to soothe those calling for more.
More may come however when Gareth Southgate ruminates on his next squad and more still in the summer if Manchester United decide that, for all his talent, he is clearly having trouble growing up.
United have made much of their rigorous profiling to identify potential signings and if they are true to their words Grealish’s behaviour this week should throw up red flags.
If Old Trafford manage to finally rid themselves of the trouble that is Paul Pogba this summer (by no means guaranteed), they should perhaps think twice about taking on a player who has has trouble sticking to rules or, for that matter, putting matching footwear on his feet.
I would still sign Jack Grealish – but put a clause relating to his behaviour into his contract.
United have stood by players for much worse throughout the years.
They didn’t sack Roy Keane when his tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland all but ended the former Manchester City defender’s career.
And United didn’t let Eric Cantona kung-fu kicking a supporter get in the way of his success at Old Trafford.
I’d still sign Grealish – but warn him something like this can’t happen again. Especially given how big a club the Red Devils are.
Aston Villa star Jack Grealish and James Maddison of Leicester City are the two midfielders being considered by Manchester United this summer.
And even before Grealish’s incident in which he broke government rules on self-isolation I thought Maddison was a better option for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
The former Norwich man has nine goals and three assists in all competitions this season and has helped Leicester to a top-four place in the suspended Premier League.
For me it is far harder to stand out in a team of that quality than it is to be the star in a team fighting for relegation like Aston Villa.
Maddison would be a better signing and a safer investment for Ed Woodward with Grealish a far more risky choice.
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