Manchester United don't have much cause to be jealous of any club's transfer business this summer, but seeing Jack Grealish on the verge of joining neighbours Manchester City may well induce a hint of envy.
It's been a worryingly slow summer for the reigning Premier League champions so far, with a replacement for Sergio Aguero hard to come by and the permanent arrival of Scott Carson the only signing so far.
Yet that may soon be about to change. The Manchester Evening News understands that City have now begun their pursuit for playmaker Grealish, having tabled a £100million bid.
Aston Villa remain hopeful of keeping their captain and have offered him a lucrative new contract to stay but the prospect of winning trophies and enhancing his status in England manager Gareth Southgate's eye may be too tempting to turn down.
Grealish has established himself as one of the Premier League's most exciting and creative forwards in the past two seasons since dragging Villa back up to the top flight. The 25-year-old has 17 goals and 20 assists to his name in that time and also proved he could deliver at the highest level this summer at Euro 2020.
Should City get the deal over the line then they will be adding yet another excellent player to their wealth of attacking talent and making themselves an even more daunting prospect for the other challengers in the division.
What's surprising is that City appear to have no challengers for such a big-name player - one that United have been interested in for a while.
United made their interest in Grealish known to Villa way back in February 2020 as they looked to steal a march on any potential competitors in the upcoming summer transfer window, hoping that he would be available on the cheap should they return to the Championship.
A lot changed in the months following, one of them being Villa's position in the Premier League table. The Midlands club was struggling in a relegation scrap when the season was curtailed due to the pandemic, but upon its restart they mounted a miraculous comeback to survive in the top flight.
Ironically, it was Grealish himself who played such an integral role in keeping his boyhood club afloat and in doing so strengthened their position to keep him at Villa Park.
With Premier League income secured, Villa's already rich owners were under no financial pressure to sell and with years remaining on his contract they were able to price United out of a move.
With the club not looking to spend silly amounts of money amid the height of the pandemic, they instead brought in Donny van de Beek from Ajax.
Grealish has only gone from strength to strength in the past year but United have not moved to reignite their interest in him this summer.
While it may be hard to watch Grealish instead join City and make them even stronger, United have still made the right decision in showing some restraint and not trying to bring him in as well.
Although Grealish may be extremely talented and would undoubtedly fit in at Old Trafford, there simply isn't any more room for attackers at the moment. Jadon Sancho has just arrived to make the right-wing spot his own and then there are Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood, Daniel James, Amad, Juan Mata and, for now, Jesse Lingard all competing for an attacking position in the side.
Not to mention more youngsters like Facundo Pellistri, Anthony Elanga, Hannibal and Shola Shoretire all knocking on the door as well.
What are your thoughts?
Adding another player in Grealish to that mix would be absolute overkill, make the squad unbalanced and probably leave a few players frustrated at their lack of minutes in the season to come.
There's also the price to consider. With Villa in such a strong position - Grealish has four years remaining on his contract - they are still in no need to sell. The fact that City have had to make a bid of what would easily be an English transfer record as their opening gambit says a lot.
£100million would take a lot out of the club's budget and just doesn't seem to be how the club are operating at present. United refused to meet a similar price to sign Sancho last year, and instead got him for £72.9million this summer.
In the former Borussia Dortmund man they have got a much younger player, who has far more goal contributions to his name and the one they have had their eyes set on the longest.
Not pursuing Grealish has also allowed the club to focus on other areas of the pitch that need improvement. The imminent arrival of Raphael Varane is a deal that has been done quickly, with minimum fuss and has the potential to turn them into serious title challengers. Would the club have been so efficient if they were also on the hunt for Grealish? Precedent would say not.
With the money saved, United still also have the funds to bring in other targets such as a midfielder and right-back.
So even though it may sting to see a player who was firmly in United's sights go to their closest rivals, it remains the right decision and shows that United are growing in the transfer market.
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