Remember yesterday when there was good news on the Jack Grealish to Tottenham Hotspur front? Aston Villa manager tried to pour some cold water on that news today. Steve Bruce gave comments to the media that tried to suggest that the clubs are still pretty far apart in their estimation of Grealish’s value.
“There’s been discussions, I don’t think we’ve had a formal bid. There’ve been discussions and that’s been going on practically all summer. The one thing the owners have made pretty clear is that no one is for sale.
”We don’t want to lose our best players. They’re aware, though, that every player has got his price. The good thing the owners have been able to do is not let anybody go on the cheap. If anybody wants to come and buy our players, they’re going to have to find a premium and make sure the owners are comfortable with it.
“That’s their prerogative, that’s what they’ve wanted, that’s what they’ve put in place so that’s what they’ve said, nobody is for sale. Now, we all know what football is but at the moment Spurs haven’t got anywhere near what the owners even want to consider.
”There’s not a discussion to be had at the moment because they’ve got nowhere near the figure that they demand.”
That sounds bad, but there are still reasons to be optimistic that a deal can be done. First, Bruce seems to be abdicating any of his own responsibility for transfers at Villa. He doesn’t make the decisions — the owners do. He’s reporting what the new owners have told him, but the idea that “no one is for sale” when Villa still have a pretty substantial FFP deficit seems somewhat ridiculous. He even contradicts himself in the next sentence by saying “every player has got his price.”
Secondly, Bruce only says that Spurs haven’t offered anywhere near what Villa are asking for Grealish, and reports are they’ve slapped a £40m price on him, which is ridiculous by any measure. That doesn’t mean that Villa wouldn’t still accept a lower bid for him, but it’s probably going to be higher than the £20m first mooted.
Bruce is negotiating in the media here, which is a pretty common tactic. For that reason, I don’t take his comments super seriously. Meanwhile, there have been other reports (including yesterday’s from Dan Kilpatrick) that state that the clubs are close to an agreement. I’m not going to tell you that you should believe Kilpatrick over Bruce, or vice versa, but Bruce’s comments seem intended to muddy the waters as the two clubs continue to negotiate for Grealish’s transfer. If I had to guess, I’d still say that Grealish will be wearing Lilywhite when it’s all said and done.