HIT THE ROAD, JACK
There was something of a leak on Saturday evening, a steady stream of stories concerning the future of Jack Grealish and the interest of Manchester United. And it is in the best interests of both to generate speculation ahead of a summer move.
The Daily Telegraph say Grealish ‘will consider’ leaving Aston Villa at the end of the season ‘to test himself at the next level’. The likelihood of a move does not depend on his boyhood club’s Premier League survival, with United and Manchester City expected to bid regardless.
United in particular ‘believe he is a player who could add quality to their midfield’. They consider Grealish to be ‘ahead of James Maddison’ in their list of targets, considering the Leicester midfielder is close to signing a new contract at the King Power Stadium.
This should just about cover Pep Guardiola’s admiration.
To that end, The Sun say United would be Grealish’s ‘No1 destination’. They, too, claim this as an exclusive.
Villa ‘would want up to £60million’, which really does seem a little low of a valuation for a 24-year-old club captain with more than three years left on his current deal at a club who would absolutely not want him to leave.
Real Madrid and Barcelona want him, too, which you would expect to bump that price up. But Goal.com say Grealish has agreed to ‘the outline of a deal’ with United and has ‘begun house-hunting’ in the area.
GET YOUR PHIL
Another option for United could be Philippe Coutinho, who ‘has been told he can leave Barcelona for a cut-price £77m’. That comes courtesy of the Daily Express, who know all about Barcelona’s plans to ‘make several changes to their squad’ which they hope to fund by selling a few dispensable stars.
Coutinho is chief among them, on loan at Bayern Munich and struggling to impress. The German club ‘have already made up their minds not to take up the option to buy,’ probably because it would cost them £102m and he is being offered elsewhere for £77m.
They would prefer to sign Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen, as would Liverpool. The Reds are mentioned in passing as potential suitors for their former player but United and Chelsea are also mentioned and seem far more likely.
MAUR OF THE SAME
All this, signing Grealish for ‘up to £60m’ and Coutinho for £77m, could be a welcoming present for Mauricio Pochettino. The Sunday Mirror claim he ‘hasn’t given up hope’ of taking over at Old Trafford next season, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer struggling.
But ‘the only way’ United will sack the Norwegian is if they endure ‘another shocking end to the season’ and finish outside the top six.
They are currently 8th.
The Glazers could even force the issue as they are ‘concerned about falling revenues’. Losing matches and being a bit rubbish? No problem. Losing money because sponsors have Champions League clauses written into their deals? Out you go, Ole.
So they ‘haven’t ruled out’ bringing in Pochettino at some point in the near future. The Argentinian is said to be ‘patient’ but ‘excited’ at the prospect of taking over.
AND THE REST
Manchester City are ready to admit defeat in their bid to lure Lionel Messi to the Premier League next season after being told the Argentina forward, 32, has got no plans to leave Barcelona… Paris St-Germain will send scouts to watch England left-back Danny Rose, 29, during his loan spell at Newcastle from Tottenham… Roma are upset that Manchester United have increased their asking price to £17m for former England central defender Chris Smalling, 30, who is on loan with the Italian club this season… Former Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey, 29, is being linked with a move away from Juventus, having only signed a four-year deal with the Italians last year… Liverpool are likely to sell 22-year-old Wales forward Harry Wilson, who is on loan at Bournemouth, this summer.