Aston Villa will refuse to sell £30million-rated midfielder Jack Grealish on the cheap despite their mounting financial problems.
The cash-strapped midlands club are determined they will not be held to ransom, according to Press Association Sport.
Grealish is Villa‘s best option of raising a quick lump sum of cash as they look for £40million to comply with Financial Fair Play rules, but they will hold firm on their valuation.
West Ham, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Leicester have been linked with the 22-year-old, although he is unlikely to move to the Foxes, while Arsenal and Everton are also apparently interested.
Villa missed a tax payment on Friday – although they have resolved the immediate problem with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs – and need to raise money in the long term.
It has not been ruled out that Grealish – who wants to stay for another year – could remain at Villa Park, and the club will look for other income sources, although that is a risky strategy.
He has not yet been categorically told he will be sold but that appears the most likely outcome, with a bidding war Villa’s best chance of getting the top price.
James Chester has also been linked with a move while fellow defender John Terry will leave on a free and full-back Alan Hutton is expected to depart when his contract expires at the end of the month as the club cuts costs.
Boyhood Villa fan Grealish impressed last season, despite only scoring three times, but the club failed to return to the Premier League, which has plunged them into financial uncertainty.
They lost the Sky Bet Championship play-off final 1-0 to Fulham last month after finishing fourth.
A week after the defeat Villa missed a tax payment but have now paid £500,000 and are expected to shell out a further £1.2million by the end of the week.
The outstanding amount is then likely to be sent swiftly, ensuring administration is not an immediate threat.
Chief executive Keith Wyness was suspended on Tuesday amid reports he had fallen out with owner Tony Xia.
Chairman Xia – now acting chief executive – has been struggling with short-term cash-flow with tight rules on taking money out of China causing problems.
He is keen to remain in charge but there are at least three parties interested in buying the club.
The position of boss Steve Bruce also remains uncertain, with Xia yet to give concrete assurances over the manager’s future.