Aston Villa are already well ahead of schedule as they look to recruit creative options capable of replacing Jack Grealish, who is set to join Manchester City in a £100million transfer
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Transfer update: Grealish news plus latest on Dumfries
How do you replace Jack Grealish?
That’s the £100million question facing Aston Villa as their talisman and club captain edges closer to joining long-term suitors Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side bid a Premier League-record nine-figure sum for Grealish on Friday and Villa Park chiefs are said to have softened their stance, allowing the 25-year-old to depart for the Etihad.
Of course, Grealish will also need to consent to the transfer in order for it to be completed. But it seems unlikely he would turn down the chance to join the English champions, where a flurry of silverware is all but guaranteed with Guardiola at the helm.
Buendia (left) has completed a transfer to Villa and Cantwell may soon follow
This presents Villa with task of replacing their most-important player with less than two weeks remaining until the start of the new season.
Grealish’s versatility and quality means the Midlands club will likely require multiple signings to fill the void he will leave, as the Three Lions star is able to operate on the left wing, as a No. 10 and in a box-to-box midfield role.
But it appears Villa are already well ahead of schedule as they look to recruit creative options, with one signing completed, a second at the final stage and a third lined up.
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Villa announced the signing of Emiliano Buendia from Norwich City for a club-record fee of £33million in June, beating Arsenal to the highly-rated Argentine’s signature.
Buendia, 24, lit up the Championship for the Canaries last season, contributing a stunning 15 goals and 16 assists.
The latest reports suggest Villa could raid Carrow Road once again before the transfer window shuts, with Todd Cantwell on their radar.
Cantwell, 23, chipped in with six goals from attacking midfield last season, matching his tally from the previous Premier League campaign with Norwich.
Villa may need to break their transfer record once again to sign the England Under-21 international, with The Sun reporting a bid of £40million will be required to dislodge him from the Norfolk club.
While Villa’s swoop for Cantwell is in the pipeline in anticipation of Grealish’s exit, they have also agreed in principle to sign Leon Bailey from Bayer Leverkusen for a rumoured fee of £30million.
A statement released on Saturday reads: “Aston Villa and Bayer Leverkusen have reached an agreement for the transfer of Leon Bailey subject to the player completing a medical and finalising personal terms.”
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Bailey, 23, scored 15 goals in 40 appearances for the German club last season and will further bolster Dean Smith’s options in wide areas.
Should Villa complete transfers for Bailey and Cantwell to add to Buendia, it will take their spending for the summer to £103million.
Losing Grealish will no doubt come as a blow, but – on paper – Villa have already acted shrewdly in the transfer market to replace him with three younger players who also possess great quality.