While Aston Villa fans had hoped this day wouldn’t come, it’s now official that Jack Grealish has left the club to join Manchester City in a £100m transfer.
As per BBC Sport, the 25-year-old has now broken the British transfer record with that fee, and he will no doubt be targeting trophies and a successful stint at the Etihad.
For Villa, the work to move on from our now former talismanic captain and playmaker started well before Thursday’s announcement, and that in turn has softened the blow of the loss and has given supporters fresh hope that we’re still on the right track.
Classy Purslow, sensible transfer work from Villa
CEO Christian Purslow broke the silence surrounding the transfer on Thursday evening with a classy and clear address to the Villa fans as he detailed the inner workings of the contract that Grealish signed last year and what led to his eventual exit.
It was an excellent way for the Villa chief to offer clarity to the fanbase, to reassure us of the plan moving forward and to update us on the strategy without Grealish.
While it has been a difficult week for all concerned, there is relief that the saga has now concluded and Villa will press ahead with any remaining transfer business before preparing for our Premier League season opener against Watford on August 14.
Going back before that though, the signings of Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings have added real quality, creativity and goals to our attacking line-up.
Replacing Grealish with one signing was arguably never going to work as talents like that are rare, while it would have likely taken a huge fee to sign a player of that ilk.
Instead, Villa have spread the net wider, bought well in terms of the talent that the trio possess, and have essentially replaced what Grealish offered the team with multiple options to avoid falling into the trap of being too reliant on one star individual again.
Naturally, Dean Smith now needs to make it all work and click into place which will be tricky particularly in the early stages as players settle and adjust, but it’s a sensible strategy and hopefully one that pays off with success on the pitch.
Villa also have the likes of Anwar El Ghazi and Bertrand Traore who will be pushing for a starting berth, but we’ve signed players expected to go into the starting XI and make an impact and that’s what makes life without Grealish exciting.
Further, to do all of that before the Grealish deal was announced to get value for money rather than paying over the odds with clubs knowing we’ve received a substantial fee was another excellent bit of business from the Villa hierarchy, and from the owners to Purslow to Smith, they have offered a real sense of stability, encouragement and belief moving forward that we can be competitive and stick to our long-term plan.