Jack Grealish has signed a new five-year contract with Aston Villa that will see him remain at the club until 2025.
The England midfielder put pen-to-paper on a lucrative £125,000 per-week contract after it became clear that a transfer away from Villa Park wouldn’t happen this summer. Grealish was linked to Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham but a reported asking price of around £80million meant that no club were willing to prize him away.
After saving the club from relegation, it was expected that would be the perfect send off from the club for a player who is clearly playing below his true level. He earned his England debut in the most recent international break too.
But after signing the new contract, Grealish said that having spoken to the owners he believed in their ambition for the club and that big things were coming. So is him signing due to his ambition to succeed with his boyhood club, or is it just blind loyalty?
The truth is it’s probably somewhere in the middle of the two. After surviving relegation, Villa have invested in the squad to improve key areas. Ollie Watkins has signed for a club record fee in attack from Brentford, while the club have also completed the signing of goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal. They’re also due to sign Bertrand Traore from Lyon for the wing and to help lift the creative burden off Grealish’s shoulders.
After reaching the League Cup final last year, Villa have plenty of positives to build on. But Grealish is taking a huge gamble with his career.
He’s been given a hefty pay-rise, likely to put him on a par with what he would have earned elsewhere had a transfer materialised. But his ability should have him at a club that is competing for honours on a regular basis. He is currently Villa’s big hope and is often their be-all-and-end-all. If he struggles, Villa don’t win.
At a club where he is surrounded by more quality, he can play his natural game and not worry about everything having to run through him. He’s earned his stripes and I don’t think any of the Villa fans would have begrudged him a move away this summer.
But with signing the new deal, he has likely tied himself to the club for the best years of his career. According to reports the new deal contains a very big release clause, although the actual amount hasn’t been revealed. Unless Villa go down, it’s likely that nobody will be able or willing to pay the money needed to get him out of Villa Park.
He may have just signed away the chance of a big move in the future and adding some honours to his CV, but he has secured legendary status at his boyhood club.