In 2018, two years after Aston Villa were relegated from the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur set foot on signing a young, talismanic Jack Grealish.
As reported by BBC Sport, a heartbreaking end of the 2017/18 season, when the Villans failed to return to the Premier League, led to financial complications at the club. The potential sale of a peaking Grealish was an opportunity to set finances right.
Villa set the price for Grealish at £40 million, however, as reported by Football.London, Tottenham Hotspur chairman Daniel Levy tabled bids of £15 and £25 million for the young English midfielder. Aston Villa, insistent on the £40 million price tag, rejected the advances.
Three years later, Grealish made a record move to Manchester City in the summer of 2021. In a recent interview with ITV Sports, the former Villa captain looked back on his conversation with his former manager, Dean Smith, regarding his failed move to Tottenham Hotspur.
"“He come in and he pulled me on his first day, and he says ‘so you were gonna sign for Spurs?’ I was like ‘yeah, nearly’. He was like ‘£25m?’ – I think we were like nine games in – ‘nine games in now, look’. On the board it said no goals, one assist. He was like ‘I need you to get your numbers up’, and that was one thing I tried to do, to get my numbers up there, and as soon as I’ve gone to City, that’s what the manager has said to me.”"
What did Jack Grealish’s failed transfer lead to?
After missing out on the chance to play Premier League and Champions League football with Spurs, Grealish became a cult hero at Aston Villa. He unlocked his true potential as an attacking midfielder and captained his side to record 10 league wins in a row en route to earning promotion to England’s top flight in 2018.
Following two successful seasons in the Premier League with Villa, Manchester City triggered a £100 million release clause in Grealish’s contract, making him the most expensive English player of all time.
In the end, the failed transfer to Tottenham benefitted both Aston Villa and Grealish. In the three additional years he spent with Smith at Villa, Grealish became one of the most sought-after players in Europe. He got his big-money move–netting Villa £100 million–and the club returned to the Premier League.