Manchester United have been given fresh hope they could sign Jack Grealish after Dean Smith admitted the player could still look for a way out at Aston Villa.
The 25-year-old Birmingham-born player has stepped up through the gears this season and made himself one of the Premier League’s stand out players.
Grealish was instrumental in keeping Villa in the Premier League with eight goals and six assists last season. However, this season he has stepped on the gas and forced his way into Gareth Southgate’s England XI.
Grealish has already scored five goals and grabbed six assists in nine Premier League games and Southgate has been unable to ignore him.
It’s no surprise to see that Villa now reportedly rate the star at nearer the £100m mark.
Grealish was the subject of strong interest from United over the summer. However, they signed Donny van de Beek instead. Grealish subsequently signed a new deal at Villa Park.
Furthermore, Smith – in an interview with Stadium Astro – knows Villa might not keep Grealish for that much longer.
Indeed, he even admits that unless they soon reach Europe, the England man could soon be off.
“I’ve built up a very good relationship over my two years at Aston Villa with Jack. We know each other inside and out.
“He wanted to progress and wanted progress as a footballer first and foremost at Villa.
“It’s his team, he grew up as an Aston Villa fan. He’s been here a long time and I always had that feeling he didn’t want to leave.
“He wanted to continue the journey of being progressive with the football club.”
Smith admits it is down to Villa to continue their upward curve if they want to retain Grealish’s services for the long haul.
“If we don’t keep progressing and become a club that’s challenging in Europe then we probably won’t meet Jack’s ambitions and there will be a time where Jack looks elsewhere then.
“At the moment, he can see the progression at the football club and he wants to be a part of that.”
Villa boss hopes to use Midlands rivals as inspiration
Smith, meanwhile, admits weekend opponents Wolves’ recent success is a source of inspiration for his club.
Villa have looked on at them and West Midlands rivals Leicester with envy in the past few years.
Both have challenged for major honours and competed in European competitions.
Wanderers reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League last season while the Foxes famously won the Premier League in 2016.
They subsequently enjoyed a run to the last eight of the Champions League a year later.
Villa did reach the final of the League Cup last season, though, losing out to Manchester City.
“We have a proud history as a club but next year will be 25 years since we last won a major trophy,” said Smith.
“We went close against Manchester City in the Carabao Cup and unfortunately we cannot count the play-off trophy as a major trophy.
“Our job now is to try to benefit from the owners’ vision of the club, which is to go and compete for the highest honours.
“We want to try and mirror what Leicester City did in winning the title and Wolves getting into Europe. Those are our ambitions and our aims.
“What Wolves have done since getting promoted has been fantastic and something everyone can admire.
“We will try to aspire to what they have done over the last couple of seasons. The respect is there.”