I know that Tottenham Hotspur fans are already hopping mad about how this transfer window has been going, and with good reason. Spurs have not signed a single player with less than three weeks to go until the window closes, with only two development squad departures. Meanwhile, the list of reported Spurs targets is shrinking as they either sign with other clubs, or are otherwise failing to materialize.
And now there’s potentially more bad news with the one transfer target that looked at least like Spurs would eventually sign, Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish. Villa are undergoing a financial crisis sparked by their failure to promote to the Premier League and the sudden insolvency of their Chinese-born owner, Tony Xia. However, Villa just completed a club takeover, with new co-owners promising a cash injection to help deal with any lingering financial issues.
Villa manager Steve Bruce has now come out and indirectly addressed Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy and others who were waiting for Villa to have a fire sale of their best assets: don’t expect Jack Grealish to come cheap anymore.
“If we have to sell them then at least we get the right price for them and can move forward. When you’re up against it and hanging your dirty washing out in public then the vultures are circling and ready to nick your assets.
“At least that’s not going to be the case – well I know that’s not going to be the case – because I’ve had that conversation already. So if anybody is going to buy one of our players now they are going to have to pay a premium.
“It’s only what somebody else is prepared to pay – what he’s worth. I know for a fact from the owners – new investors - anybody wanting to buy Jack Grealish will not buy him on the cheap. Until I have the conversation I can’t really answer the question. What is he worth? Who knows?”
That’s not great, Bob! Levy had reportedly been playing the long game with Villa, trying to wait them out so they’d be willing to ship off Grealish for a cut-rate deal, around £20m. Grealish is still probably going to be sold this summer — he has said he wants to play in the Champions League and is keen on moving to Tottenham. But if Bruce is right, the ground has shifted under this deal, and Tottenham will probably have to pay a lot more than they had thought for Grealish.
In some ways, this may be a blessing in disguise? Spurs obviously have the money to spend, so though they may not get a bargain it may kick-start Spurs’ lagging transfer dealings. Mauricio Pochettino is taking his team to USA for the International Champions Cup next week and who knows how that will affect negotiations and signings.
But if Pochettino and Levy really think Grealish is a player that can help Spurs right away next season, then it behooves them to get the damn deal done, even if they no longer have the luxury of circling Villa’s castle walls and starving them out.
What’s the new price? Who knows. Villa still values Grealish at £40m; the final price will probably be less than that. Still, it sounds as though Levy’s tactic for trying to wait Villa out has backfired.