West Bromwich Albion boss Steve Bruce has revealed that he played a key role in stopping Tottenham Hotspur from signing Jack Grealish for £10million when he was in charge of Aston Villa.
Villa were still in the Championship in the summer of 2018, having lost the play-off final to Fulham and faced another season outside of the Premier League.
The Sun claimed in 2020, that Villa were strapped for cash at the time and were desperate to sell their star man to recoup some much-needed funds to pay off debt to save the club from falling into administration.
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy was reported to have thought he could land Grealish for between £5-6million and decided to board a flight for Los Angeles ahead of the club’s pre-season tour only to learn by the time he landed that Villa had been taken over billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, with the player’s valuation having risen to £40million and a deal never materialised.
Bruce has now insisted that he played a key role in keeping Grealish at the club that summer and ended up helping the club to make a much higher profit from his £100million sale to Manchester City last year.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Bruce said: “But the biggest thing I did that summer (2018) was fight tooth and nail to keep Grealish because they wanted to sell him and Spurs were there with £10million. They got £100m for him last summer! Great new owners there, even though they sacked me.”
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Grealish made 39 appearances for Pep Guardiola’s team in the previous campaign scoring six goals and assisting four times across all competitions (Transfermarkt). That return in and of itself may not justify his price tag, but he has proven his worth by being a key figure in helping his coach maintain control in the forward areas.
The 26-year-old would have found it difficult to get into Spurs’ starting lineup had he signed in the past. After all, his primary position is on the left wing, and it would have been more than challenging to displace Son Heung-Min from that spot.
Hence, Grealish may not have developed to become the player that he currently is, as his progress is down to how he was a regular at Villa Park. Using hindsight, one may say that Spurs could have benefited by signing him, but that may not always be the case due to differences in circumstances.
Moreover, the Citizens star is more suited to a possession style of play rather than the transitional game we have played under Antonio Conte and the other managers like Jose Mourinho in the past. So perhaps losing out on Grealish may not have been that much of a blow indeed for all these reasons.