Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has reiterated that Jack Grealish will not be leaving the club this month, insisting that “people can keep looking but they can’t touch”.
Having played a huge part in Villa’s promotion to the Premier League last season, the Englishman has adapted impressively to the step up in class with six goals and five assists in 19 appearances so far this term.
Indeed, Grealish was at the centre of his side’s 2-1 win over Burnley on New Years’ Day; despite having a goal ruled out for offside by VAR, the midfielder was not to be denied and netted to secure his side three points.
Such performances have seen him linked with a move to Manchester United, with Friday’s newspapers claiming that boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has him on a four-man list of midfield targets.
However, speaking at a press conference on Friday, Smith was quick to play down the speculation, saying that Grealish will be going nowhere any time soon.
“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.”
While Villa were buoyed by their win over the Clarets, it came at a cost as attacker Wesley and goalkeeper Tom Heaton suffered serious knee injuries, leaving the club with just one fit senior striker.
The double blow follows John McGinn fracturing his ankle on Boxing Day to further stretch Villa’s resources.
“We’ve got business planned, that’ll continue. I’m sitting down tonight with Christian and Jesus to see what this changes for us,” said Smith, ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup third-round trip to Fulham.
“It’ll hasten what we do in the market. The recruitment side won’t change from what we were looking at before.
“They’re out for the rest of the season and it’s all I need to know so I can start planning.
“We’re in January now so recruitment comes to the forefront of everyone’s mind anyway but me knowing I don’t have them for the rest of the season I can plan.”
As for who could come in to help Villa up front, the club are reportedly interested in signing former Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge.
Sturridge has impressed since his move from Anfield to Turkey, scoring seven goals in 13 appearances for Trabzonspor.
Such form – along with him swatting aside his past injury worries – has led to Marseille and Villa keeping tabs on the striker, according to the Daily Mail.
As for Villa’s duties on the pitch, they follow up their FA Cup tie with an EFL Cup semi-final first leg clash against Leicester City on Wednesday.