Aston Villa star Jack Grealish has been linked with a big-money move this summer despite his lockdown misdemeanour earlier this month.
Manchester United are said to be the front runners for Grealish with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer keen on further strengthening his midfield after the arrival of Bruno Fernandes. If Grealish was to depart the Villians, here are five players that could potentially replace him.
1. Tod Cantwell
While not a like for like replacement given that Cantwell has been deployed on the left on most occasions, the young midfielder started the season like a house on fire as the Canaries welcomed a strong return from relegation. This has not lasted for Daniel Farke’s team who look certain to be relegated if the season is resumed with Norwich in 20th place and seven points away from 17th.
Cantwell has found the net on six occasions with two assists in 31 appearances in his debut season and has already attracted a lot of attention with clubs like Liverpool and United among the list of names. His market value has rocketed from €750k in February 2019 to €20m in March 2020.
If Villa manages to survive relegation, the lure of Premier League football and a major role in a historically big club could well turn the eye of the 22-year-old.
2. Dwight McNeil
Burnley’s rising star has been linked with a number of clubs this summer including United (every player on the planet is) and Crystal Palace.
McNeil has had a quiet season in the goal-scoring department, having found the net just twice but has registered five assists in the Premier League.
While his contract still has a few more years left, Burnley have been one of the clubs who claim they will not be able to financially survive the Covid-19 crisis and so could be forced into selling McNeil. If Grealish is sold, there is no doubt that he will fetch a good price which could be put to use in luring the Burnley star to Villa Park.
3. Romário Baró
If one wants to look abroad, then Romário Baró is worth having a look at. The young Porto midfielder has only just begun playing for in the top league in Portugal but has already attracted attention from Real Madrid.
With great vision and some silky skills to back it up, Baró has been described as a wonderkid who is destined for a big future and now could be a good time for Vill to invest some Grealish money into worthy successor who, at just 20-years-old could have a long future ahead of him.
Ironically enough, the youngster is almost an identical build to Grealish, albeit five centimetres taller. Coming from Portugal will mean he will have to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League and it will be essential that Villa also invest in a good finisher to partner with him up with.
4. Andreas Perreira
With United desperate for Grealish and known for doing anything to get their man, Villa will be in a position of power when the parties sit down to negotiate.
In this case, it could be quite likely that United offers a player as part of the deal with Andreas Perreira potential option.
The young Brazilian midfielder has been unable to find consistency this season and rumour has it he is on the list of players that have been deemed surplus to requirements.
At 24, Perreira still has time on his hands and has shown on a few occasions that he has good vision and goal-scoring ability which was demonstrated during his loan at Granada where he found the net five times with three assists as well as a memorable performance against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in 2016.
Any deal that involves Perreira will likely also include a fee which could prove to be a win-win situation as Villa could use the money to strengthen their goalscoring options.
5. Eberechi Eze
One of the stand out midfielders in the Championship, Eberechi Eze would be the perfect fit for Aston Villa, especially as Queens Park Rangers currently sit at 13th in the Championship and closer to a relegation battle than a promotion fight.
The 21-year-old star has bagged 12 goals and eight assists in 37 appearances this season. He has also topped the stats for most shots on target by a midfielder and could be the goal-scoring option Villa have been crying out for.
The best part of pursuing Eze would be that he only has one year left on his contract and could, therefore, be lured away for a bargain fee leaving money available to strengthen other positions.
He has featured for both the England u20s and u21s already and it looks to be a matter of time before a Premier League club looks to acquire his services.
The race for Jack Grealish is set to be one of the most exciting transfers of the summer. While Villa are adamant not to let him go, the money that he could fetch could well give Dean Smith the chance to create a more balanced squad.