Roy Keane comments suggest Man Utd transfer chief Ed Woodward made wrong summer decision

Jack Grealish is currently filling column inch after column inch. The Aston Villa captain is adding to his superb start to the Premier League season by starring for England. Having long appeared outside of Gareth Southgate’s plans, Grealish – with five goals and six assists in eight Villa appearances – is smashing his way into them.

And in doing so, the 25-year-old is making it abundantly clear that he is an elite-level attacker, his creativity and ability on the ball standing him out by a mile for the Three Lions in their Nations League loss to Belgium on Sunday.

A penny for the thoughts of the Manchester United hierarchy then. Grealish was heavily linked to the Red Devils in the summer but they never truly came close to a concrete move for the Villa attacker.

Despite featuring on United’s list of possible recruits for the summer, Ed Woodward and co. focused their efforts on Borussia Dortmund’s £108million-rated Jadon Sancho instead. They failed to get him.

Attack-minded midfielder Donny van de Beek came in, although has yet to make any real impact at Old Trafford with Bruno Fernandes undroppable in the No 10 role.

Though he can play deeper, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prefers a two-man midfield partnership of either Nemanja Matic or Scott McTominay and Fred behind Fernandes when utilising a 4-2-3-1 set-up.

DON’T MISS: Mourinho comments explain why Pogba is better for France than Man Utd

But Van de Beek was not seen as a direct alternative for Grealish anyway. Instead, United simply had their doubts about the Englishman. Most crucially, they didn’t know where he would fit in.

Perhaps it is a fair concern, given Grealish has played much of his club football from the left wing for Villa, though he also played well in more of a central role last year.

Marcus Rashford has starred on the left for United under Solskjaer, including scoring seven goals in 12 games this term, most of which have come from out wide despite also filling in for Anthony Martial up top.

And Van de Beek – at half of Grealish’s apparent price tag – is still likely to come good given the Ajax man’s abundance of quality.

But regardless, Grealish is cementing himself as one of the very best attackers in England. And he’s showing that he has the quality to have been a talismanic player for United, perhaps even of Fernandes-like proportions.

PREMIER LEAGUE ON TV: Get NOW TV’s Sky Sports season pass now and save 25 per cent

Signing him, over Van de Beek or even in addition to, might have allowed for greater flexibility with the likes of Rashford and Martial, the former able to play through the middle more to offer Martial greater rest without having to change the team’s tactics as they might when the slower Edinson Cavani leads the line.

It would have allowed for more rest for United’s wide players, not just for Fernandes. It might have allowed for new formations.

There are a lot of possibilities with Grealish’s level of ability. No wonder he’s being linked elsewhere. Manchester City have been tipped to launch a summer move in 2021 for the playmaker, whom Pep Guardiola labelled “exceptional” back in January.

Such praise has been followed up on by many, including most recently United legend Roy Keane, who only in October appeared slightly confused at the hype around Grealish.

DON’T MISS…

Gary Lineker and Cesc Fabregas make Man Utd transfer decision look bad

Grealish’s message to Sancho shows exactly what Man Utd missed

Man Utd star Van de Beek paying the price for Woodward failure

“It’s like he’s the messiah for England,” he said after Ian Wright admitted his disappointment that Grealish hadn’t gotten minutes in a Wembley defeat to Denmark.

Keane’s opinion has changed since then, it’s fair to say. The hard-nosed Irishman declared after England’s 3-0 win over his country: “This guy is going on to great things, no doubt in my mind.”

And he added post-Belgium: “He takes risks. What I love about Jack – and I worked with him at Aston Villa – is his courage.

“Wanting the ball in tight areas, dealing with the ball, getting you up the pitch, winning free-kicks, courage, he’s quicker than you think.

“The way he’s improved over the past six months has been fantastic. We keep talking about England winning something or getting to the next level, I think they need a player like Jack to do that. He was outstanding.”

And who else could do with getting to the next level? United. Even the talismanic Fernandes has not been able to prevent United losing three of their first even Premier League games and there’s no doubt more quality around him in the final third would help ease the reliance on him.

Grealish’s stock is rising significantly and starring for England shows that he is capable not just of being a lesser team’s star man but that he can stand up and be counted alongside real quality and also against real quality, with Belgium the top-ranked team in the world.

His previous Villa deal was set to expire in 2023 and with Grealish himself having admitted he was 50-50 over his future before putting pen-to-paper.

Clearly there was a chance for United to prise him from Villa Park. United players even thought a deal might be happening themselves, reportedly asking Grealish in a pre-season friendly clash when he would be linking up with them.

But that window looks as though it may have passed – although the mercurial No 10 will no doubt still be on United’s radar.

It may not be long before one of United’s rivals look to take Grealish from Villa themselves, and if he continues on his current trajectory, the Red Devils may well find themselves looking back and thinking what may have been. It wouldn’t be the first time their recruitment team have regrets.

This article contains affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission on any sales of products or services we write about. This article was written completely independently, see more details here

Source: Read Full Article