Shooting star Jack Grealish is about to move to England’s champions Manchester City. A transfer fee of 117.5 million euros that Aston Villa is to receive is under discussion. In one fell swoop, the 25-year-old international would be the most expensive player in the Premier League. A development that was unthinkable all too long ago.
This article first appeared on March 20, 2020 SPOX and Goal. Before the new publication, only the first paragraph (see above) was updated. From here you can read the original version.
It is a series of Twitter images that could be seen in the credits of a (bad) teen film. Young people pose on summer vacation. Arms around each other, middle and index fingers shaped into the obligatory “V”, drinks in hands. They let off steam, they have a good time, they partying. Then comes the last picture of this one who exaggerated it grossly.
In front of a hotel complex he lies in broad daylight in the middle of the street with his arms outstretched. Obviously he didn’t make it to bed, but is taking a nap on the asphalt in the sun, sleeping off his intoxication. It is flanked by two packets of cigarettes.
Not a brilliant achievement, but actually not worth mentioning either. If the young man on the street in front of the hotel in Tenerife weren’t one of the UK’s greatest talents. Because it was Jack Grealish who drove it so hard on his 2015 summer vacation – and the response was enormous. The pictures of the then 19-year-old jewel from Aston Villa on the verge of unconsciousness spread quickly via social media.
Spicy photos in Tenerife: running the gauntlet for Jack Grealish
Grealish could hardly have chosen the timing for his escapade worse. At the time, a discussion was brewing in England about young English people who drink themselves into a coma and behave badly while on vacation abroad. The boulevard fueled this for weeks and a young soccer star who fit perfectly into this picture came naturally exactly right. For days Grealish dominated the headlines and was sharply criticized. Especially since he is said to have experimented with inhaling laughing gas, the so-called “hippie crack”, a few months earlier.
The teenager’s reputation was badly damaged at the time. His club Aston Villa criticized his own generation, but also protected it and refrained from a harsh sanction. Running the gauntlet in the media was seen as punishment enough.
Less than five years later, Grealish is still being approached about those incidents from his youth. He is now 24, has learned to deal with them and he does it offensively. He was now “a completely different person”, he said in an interview with at the beginning of March Sky Sports and emphasized: “Everyone knows that I had a bit of bad press when I was younger. I wouldn’t change that. That made me who I am today.”
Who he is today is one of the most sought-after footballers in Europe. An elemental force on the pitch and a young man who is living his childhood dream: to be the captain of his favorite club in the Premier League.
Grealish led Aston Villa to the League Cup final
Grealish has played for Aston Villa since he was six years old. With the exception of a one-year loan to Notts County in 2013/14, the midfielder has spent his entire (football) life at Villa. The reputation of the extraordinary talent preceded him early on, and has been meeting high expectations for several years. He has long been the leader and most important player of his club, which he led to promotion to England’s elite league last year and recently to the final of the League Cup (1: 2 against Manchester City).
You can see Grealish on the lawn: he’s steeled. Steeled by the said bad press, hardened by malice from the opposing fan blocks and hardened by years in the 2nd English league, in which nothing was given to him.
Goals Ireland expert Peter Staunton said of the offensive player’s development: “He’s very strong physically. Even if he’s a playmaker, he knows exactly what it’s like to be in pain. Years in the Championship have meant that he had to take a lot and ‘grow up’. The privilege that young players sometimes enjoy in the Premier League disappeared immediately and the referees did not put him under conservation. “
Aston Villa: will Jack Grealish join Manchester United?
Staunton drew a comparison: “There are attackers like Cristiano Ronaldo who complain when they are fouled and kicked. Grealish stands up, straightens his socks and off we go.”
Grealish can play in the offensive center, but can also come from the outside. He is a good “ball hauler” and also strong in dribbling and passing. In addition, there is his goal danger, this season he brings it to the table 19. to nine hits and eight assists in 30 competitive games.
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola recently ennobled the right-footer as “one of the best players in the Premier League”. He added: “I’m a big fan of his.”
So where will he use his qualities in the next season? His contract with Aston Villa runs until 2024. Grealish, who was born in Birmingham, has repeatedly stated his love for his club. But a move to a more well-known club is still likely in this phase of his career for the coming summer. Especially if Villa is relegated to the Championship again.
Guardiolas Citizens have already been traded as a new employer, but the Spaniard waved his hand with a smile and said that Grealish was “too expensive” for his club. Real Madrid and Barcelona are said to have asked about him at one point or another. But the hottest trail leads to Old Trafford. At ManUnited, Paul Pogba is likely to move and Grealish could replace the French. According to information from SPOX and Goal, he can also imagine a change to the record champions.
A transfer to Liverpool, however, is rather unlikely. The Reds thought of information from SPOX and Goal 2018 intensively investigated a Grealish transfer, but decided against a move because of his youthful sins and the reputation that still preceded him. His talent was “overshadowed by his mentality”, it was said from Liverpool at the time.
Jack Grealish chose England’s national team
So while it is still unclear what will happen to him at club level in the summer, a decision has already been made regarding his career in the national team. Because he has Irish roots, he has been a member of Ireland’s junior selection teams since 2011. However, the English FA also got into position early on. As early as 2014, the then U21 national coach Gareth Southgate expressed an interest in Grealish and his family.
This was followed by a public canvassing for the midfielder, officials, coaches, family members and Grealish himself regularly commented on the cause. The Irish in particular advertised aggressively, after all, they did not want to lose another great talent to the English. There were meetings with the player, with his parents, with his advisor and the decision was constantly wafting through the public.
In September 2015, then Three Lions coach Roy Hodgson called for an early decision. His Irish colleague Martin O’Neill stressed that he was “not a fan of deadlines”. Did he have any idea how Grealish would decide? Less than two weeks later, he announced: “I have decided that I want to play for England. It was not an easy decision, because Ireland has a special place in my heart through my family. However, I have decided to go to my native country represent.”
Will Jack Grealish go to the 2021 European Championship with England?
Since then he has played a few games for the English U21s. He is still waiting for a nomination for the A-Elf. But that’s not surprising either, after all, he spent some time in the 2nd division and in his position the competition with stars like Jadon Sancho, Raheem Sterling, Marcus Rashford or Dele Alli is enormous.
But the hopes of participating in the European Championship in 2021 are alive. National coach Gareth Southgate would probably have called him for the test match against Italy at the end of March, which has now been canceled due to the corona pandemic. Participation in the final round, which has been postponed by a year, would be an opportunity for Grealish to hit the headlines again this summer – this time for positive ones.