Unexpected Liverpool links to Aston Villa midfielder Jack Grealish have been shut down before they have gathered momentum.
But with United looking poised to sign Bruno Fernandes from Sporting Libson in a high-profile transfer instead, Grealish has been mentioned as a potential target for Liverpool, not least on the back of some controversial quotes from former Sky Sports pundit Andy Gray, who claimed the Villa star would walk into the Reds midfield.
“If I was a coach of any of the top-six, and I include Liverpool in this, he would make the team better,” Gray said. “He is, in my opinion, better than any of Liverpool’s midfield players. I think is better than [Naby] Keita. I think he’s better than [Gini] Wijnaldum. I think he’d get into the City side. He’s much better than [Phil] Foden. I just think he’s that good.”
However, any talk of Jurgen Klopp’s side moving in for Grealish have been dismissed by the Liverpool Echo, who insist the Reds have no interest in the Villa skipper.
Liverpool snubbed the chance to sign the 24-year-old for just £25million in the summer of 2018 when Villa were in financial strife, and also opted against a move to land him in the summer window just gone.
And claims they could rekindle their interest in summer 2020 has also been shot down, with the Reds far more likely to pursue a deal for Bayer Leverkusen Kai Havertz, for whom sporting director Michael Edwards was reported to have held talks with over the weekend.
Villa manager Dean Smith has also dismissed any possibility of Grealish departing Villa Park this month, especially with the Midlands side locked in a battle to avoid relegation from the Premier League.
“He’s a big target for many teams. Our owners are very ambitious in establishing us as a top Premier League club, to do that you need to keep your best players,” the manager said.
“People can keep looking but they can’t touch. We want to keep our best players and he’s showing he’s one of the best in the Premier League.”
Former Villa striker Gabriel Agbonlahor, meanwhile, believes Grealish’s loyalty to his hometown team would also see the player reject any move away anyway.
“It’s a tough one but Villa’s owners have come out and said, they want to keep spending,” Agbonlahor said on Stadium Astro.
“This season, they’ve got a squad together, lost a lot of players in the summer – stay up, that’s the only goal, then they’ll go again in the summer.
“If they go down, I think he’ll leave. If they stay up, it could be 50-50. If Villa go out there and spend another £100m maybe…
“If they go out and spend, he’s getting better players around him. I know him, he won’t want to leave. He’s the captain.”