Jack Grealish was heavily linked with a move to Premier League Spurs throughout the summer transfer window, and was the subject of several bids from Mauricio Pochettino’s side. However, a deal failed to materialise, and remained at Villa Park.
In the early stages of the transfer window, Aston Villa were suffering with severe financial constraints, with administration even being a threat. Jack Grealish was one of the major players that Villa looked set to let go to raise funds, alongside defender James Chester and striker Jonathon Kodjia.
Grealish touched on what he thought would be his final game and final times as an Aston Villa player. He told the Telegraph:
“At Hull, I was 95 per cent sure it was going to be my last game. I waved to the fans when I got taken off as I thought I was going. Even on the Thursday morning of the transfer window, I thought I was leaving.
“Before the new owners [arrived], Villa needed the money so I kind of accepted that me going would save the club. I think the fans would have taken that, too, because we needed the money.
The 23-year-old joined Aston Villa in 2001 as a six-year-old, only leaving the club for a loan spell at Notts County in the 2013/14 season. The playmaker has played 120 senior games for The Villains, and was unsettled by the news that he would be sold to raise funds.
“Of course, it was unsettling, it was all summer. A lot of people saw the interview with the manager in Portugal when he said the club would have to sell me.
“At that time it could have got done, but for whatever reason it didn’t. They [Spurs] weren’t willing to pay what Villa wanted at the time. But the new owners came in and they changed everything.
“It’s not like I was devastated it didn’t happen, though, because I’ve still got to realise how lucky I am to be playing for my boyhood club. I’ve played over 100 games for Villa and I’ve only just turned 23.”
Despite his disappointment at not completing his move to the Premier League, Grealish is keen to help his boyhood club back into the top tier of English football. He also wants to win his first England cap.
“I know how good I can be. I’m not being big-headed, I think all players have to have that confidence and self-belief. When I’m at my best I know how good I can be so hopefully in the future I’ll get that England call-up.
“Everyone knows the talent we’ve got in this squad and we’ve got to go all out again to get promoted. I think we’ve got the best squad in the league.
“I was speaking to Anwar [El Ghazi] this morning and he was asking me about Bristol City. I told him they play good football and he just puffed his cheeks out – I don’t think he can believe how hard the Championship is, coming from France. It’s absolutely relentless, but we have to be ready for it.
“Getting promotion with Villa is still the ultimate for me. It’s what I’ve always dreamed of and playing there in the Premier League is still the big aim.”