The “humorous” way in which members of Man Utd’s playing squad cheekily attempted to lure Jack Grealish to Old Trafford in the summer window has been revealed.
Their pursuit ultimately ended in failure, with their long-time rumoured back-up option Grealish also staying put with his current club.
A fee rumoured to be in the region of £80m had been touted as required to secure his exit from Villa Park.
No such offer materialised, however, with Grealish reaffirming his loyalty to his boyhood club when putting pen to paper on a fresh contract in mid-September.
Now, according to The Athletic’s David Ornstein, several Man Utd players reportedly attempted to lure Grealish to the club during a pre-season friendly between the two sides.
Ornstein first said of Grealish’s summer speculation on the Tifo Podcast’s Ask Ornstein show (via The Express): “I think many of us would have anticipated Grealish to be the subject of a really high-profile move in the transfer window. But you need to consider the impact COVID had on the market.
“It meant few if any clubs were willing to meet Villa’s asking price for Grealish. Villa didn’t need or want to sell, they’ve got very wealthy owners and he’s their captain.
“Also, I think some of those clubs still had reservations about that level of spending on this player and whether he’s the real deal, which it’s starting to look like he is.
“I think Villa would’ve been sympathetic to the situation if a suitable offer arrived. I think Grealish would’ve looked to explore it had a Champions League club come in and put their money where their mouth is and shown him that he was their No 1 target. That didn’t happen.
“Manchester United were heavily linked. They prioritised Jadon Sancho and didn’t even get him. Manchester City I’m told really admire Grealish but he wasn’t on their agenda this particular summer. I’m not sure about any others.”
Man Utd ‘tactic’ revealed
Ornstein then went on to reveal details of Man Utd players’ cheeky efforts to lure Grealish to Old Trafford.
He continued: “Interestingly there was a friendly between Villa and Man United ahead of the new season starting. I think in a humorous way a number of the United players were saying to Grealish, ‘When are you joining us?’
“But there was nothing from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer towards him. I think by that point it was pretty clear to Grealish that it wasn’t going to happen
“He wanted his future settled ahead of the season starting and he indicated at that point he wanted to sign a new contract so all parties came together very quickly and in the early hours of Tuesday the 15th September, that contract was signed.
“We don’t know if there’s a release clause, we’ll have to wait and see. We also don’t know if there’s any kind of agreement around whether a certain level of club comes in for him with a certain level of payment and that could take him away.
“What we do know is he is appears completely committed and happy at Aston Villa.”