Arsenal hold Jack Grealish in high regard and enquired about the Aston Villa midfielder last summer, but due to financial restraints, they did not follow up their interest. Nonetheless, given their necessity for a creative midfielder, the Gunners might go in for the Villa playmaker next summer.
It’s said that Mikel Arteta and Edu agree on the areas of the current Arsenal side that require immediate attention. It’s said that they have been in contact with the Kroenke’s to deliver their findings and are making a shortlist of possible targets.
Both the manager and technical director are aware of what needs to be done even at this early stage of the season and both know the long-term consequences of failing to bring in a creative midfielder, assuming the funds are available.
Talking of funds, it’s thought that Arsenal will have a reasonable amount to play with after selling off a collection of fringe players and releasing others for free. The Gunners could easily stump up £150m in a mixture of sales and savings. ‘£150m’ I hear you cry, ‘that’s not enough!’ But while I appreciate the reservations, the club has to be realistic about what and whom it can afford.
Jack Grealish is the latest name to be mentioned by the press and we can all understand the reasons why. Arsenal lack a penetrative and creative force who has the vision and can attack the opposition box. Grealish has shown in the Premier League and at the international level that his natural game can flourish against the best teams available.
Against Belgium, he was a constant threat and irritation with his directness, pace, and quick thinking. He was able to play a major role in the build-up play, attacked the Flemish defence repeatedly, and was also able to drop a perfectly weighted ball into space. His repertoire included back heels, flicks, dinks, kick and go’s, one-two’s, and precision short and long passes into key areas.
That’s exactly the type of player Arsenal need, but Houssem Aouar and Dominik Szoboszlai are also capable of providing that much-needed cutting edge. Grealish will probably cost £80m, Aouar around £48m, and Szoboszlai £27m, so although Arteta might like what the Aston Villa midfielder has to offer, it will all come down to affordability for Arsenal.
With Covid-19 cutting into the budgets of big clubs around the world, £80m is a massive figure with no guarantees that the game will return to the stable and lucrative position of recent years. You may mention the Pepe deal as an example of how Arsenal can summon up the funds when needed, but that was a completely un-Arsenal transaction.
One doubts that the Gunners will ever pay a fee similar to that for anyone unless Jesus starts playing football. As good as Grealish appears, it’s hard to see Arsenal paying Villa a sum anywhere close to that fee, especially when they haggled over £50m for Aouar. The difference is that Raul Sanllehi was involved in the purchase of Pepe, a player who’s actual market value was half of the final figure that they paid.
While we are on the subject, Arsenal’s squad value has decreased. Transfermarkt suggested recently that the value has dropped from £636.08m to £568.76m since the end of March. This adds some perspective to the prices of the players I’ve mentioned in this blog and also shows that Covid-19 has impacted all areas of the game.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the main man for Arsenal, has had £12m shaved off his price tag and that tends to imply that Aston Villa are blowing bubbles out of their backsides with the valuation of Jack Grealish. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see him in an Arsenal shirt, but I’d love to see anyone replace Xhaka.