Wes Edens, co-owner of Aston Villa and NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, is keen on keeping Jack Grealish at the club this summer despite attention from other clubs because he knows that there is more sense in retaining the best player than selling him for the long term future of the club, a method he has used previously.
The last week has been one rife with transfer sagas surrounding Villa player Jack Grealish. The boyhood Villa fan has already made a place for himself in the club’s history books, while there has also been widespread demand for him to start every game at the Euros. Thus, it was no surprise when the crowd erupted when Grealish came on against Germany in England’s R016 game at the Euros. The Englishman would then go to play a huge role in both goals scored by the Three Lions, increasing the pressure on Gareth Southgate to start him in every game.
However, that was not the most eventful news about the Villa player over the last week.
Manchester City’s interest and imminent bid:
After England’s last game in the group stage, there were many well-known transfer experts and websites that reported that Manchester City are reportedly going to bid £100 million for Jack Grealish this summer. Pep Guardiola is heavily interested in the player, and the City hierarchy are throwing the kitchen sank at Aston Villa to secure the services of the Englishman.
Shortly, news broke out regarding Villa’s intentions to sign the player on a new deal even though he signed a contract extension less than 12 months ago. However, the new deal has different intentions. Aston Villa wants to send out a statement to the rest of the Premier League that they are not letting their best player go anywhere.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo saga:
Back in 2019, The Milwaukee Bucks were on the verge of losing out their star player, Giannis Antetokounmpo. However, franchise co-owners Wes Edens and Marc Lasry flew down to Chicago to sell the long-term plan of the club to the supreme Greek. They wanted him to understand that they plan on building their roster around him and the future objectives of the club. They wanted to add their personal touch to the conversation as they knew that they could convince the player to stay at the team with a bumper contract and the right plan.
Edens and Lasry were clear from the beginning. They explained to him that he is their greatest asset, and they would market him that way. New players will be intrigued to join the roster because of him and the franchise’s capability of holding on to their best players. It is not a club that works on quick turnovers and short-term goals. There is a larger goal here–to become one of the best sides in NBA history, something that is possible only when you hold on to your best players and then use them to attract the best talent of the country to your team.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finally signed a new five-year ‘supermax‘ deal worth $228.2 million – with a 15% trade kicker, meaning he would get 15% of his salary if he were to be traded, including an ‘opt-out’ clause, offering him the choice in the final year of his contract to become a free agent or to earn $51,935,268 ($3,000,000 more than his previous year) in his final year.
Letting Antetokounmpo leave would send the wrong statement–you can prize our best players away, and we cannot do anything about it.
This is not what Wes Edens wanted to portray with Giannis Antetokounmpo, and he does not want to do the same with Jack Grealish at Aston Villa.
Build around Jack Grealish, not from the returns of his sale:
The message from co-owners of Aston Villa, Wes Edens and Naseef Sawiris was clear– Jack Grealish is the biggest player at their club, and they have no intentions of letting him go anytime soon. You build around your best players, not from the profits they generate through their sales.
Take Tottenham Hotspur in 2013 for example – Gareth Bale was the hottest property in Europe as he fired Spurs to a 5th placed finish with 21 goals and 4 assists to his name. He won the PFA Player of the Year as well as the PFA Young Player of the Year that season, becoming only the third player in the history of the league to have won both honours in the same season.
Tottenham understood Bale’s value and knew that they could earn rich profits from him. They went ahead and sold the Welshman to Real Madrid for €100 million, making him the most expensive transfer in football history at the time. Spurs then used this money to buy 7 new players, out of which only 1 player is still at the club in Erik Lamela. The others were flops and contributed to little to no success of the club.
Now, imagine if Spurs had not sold Gareth Bale, but in fact, tied him down to a new deal and built the club around him. They could attract better players to the club, while the best managers would also have wanted to manage this exciting team.
Gareth Bale could have become the marketing tool Daniel Levy needed to bring the best talent to Spurs but he went the other way, and Bale went on to lift 4 Champions League trophies with Real Madrid while Spurs’ chances of winning a trophy have been next to negligible since the Welshman’s departure. (Although they did reach the UCL final a couple of years ago, however, that was down to Mauricio Pochettino)
There have been several similar mistakes by different clubs over the years, and Wes Edens and Villa have seen it unfold in front of their eyes. They do not want to become another name on that list, but they want to learn from the mistakes of others and make Villa a big club again.
Jack Grealish’s current contract, which is reportedly worth £125,000 per week, could be raised remarkably to ensure that he stays at the club, but that will not be all. The club will invest heavily to improve the squad yearly, while most future signings will be to ensure that the entire side is built around him rather than with players who could replace him eventually.
Should Grealish sign a new deal, he will commit his future to the club until he is 31– meaning he will not only become one of Villa’s longest-serving players but will also become one of the very players in the Premier League with an extremely lucrative contract, filled with bonuses and incentives on top of his actual mammoth salary.
He might be offered the same salary by Manchester City, but he might not be given the same importance by Guardiola. There is of course the ambition to win the biggest trophies, something City competes for regularly, but Grealish would only want to achieve those if he gets to play a substantial part in those victories. City are overloaded with the incredible talent on the wings, and while they may sell some of the players, there is still no guarantee that Grealish will start week-in and week-out. There is the additional concern whether he will suit Pep’s style of play, but that is subjective.
At Aston Villa, he will be the main man, the center of attention; their marquee player; a sensational marketing tool, and a forever legend in the eyes of Villa fans. Few players get the opportunity to be in the position Grealish is currently in, and Aston Villa knows that their deal is a mouth-watering one, even for a player who is as ambitious as Grealish to win the biggest trophies.
Aston Villa will by hook or by crook keep the 25-year-old at the club and if the Villians are to relive their glory days again, this is an extremely crucial step in that direction, however, at the end of the day, it will be down to the player.
Over to you, Jack Grealish!