Per Sky Sports, Arsenal have registered interest in Aston Villa midfielder, Jack Grealish. Given their need at the position and the type of player Grealish is, this is brilliant news, whether they sign him or not.
The summer transfer window is here, and Arsenal have quite the task ahead of them. Mikel Arteta is embarking on his first major window as head coach, while the team is looking to recover from their lowest league finish in 25 years. They have a lot of ground to make up and some serious holes to fill.
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Where Arsenal are in most need of spending is up for debate. Centre-half is a major problem, as is defensive midfield, central midfield, a wide player, and potentially centre-forward should certain players depart as is highly possible.
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One position that should be addressed this summer, however, is creative midfield, especially in terms of finding a long-term replacement for Mesut Ozil who is much better suited to the modern game with greater athleticism, defensive work-rate, and ball-carrying ability. It is why their reported interested in Aston Villa’s Jack Grealish is so fascinating and potentially brilliant.
According to Sky Sports, Grealish is ‘undecided about his future’ as Villa fight to keep hold of him following their fighting off relegation on the final day of the season. The report claims that Villa will not sell for anything less than £80 million, which is a hefty price for a player without an international cap and with only one great season in a top-flight league, and also revealed that Arsenal expressed interest in Grealish, though never followed that approach up with a more formal offer.
Whether the Gunners will ever firm up their interest remains to be seen. Certainly, £80 million is an egregious price and the type of fee that they would never be likely or wise to meet. However, even if they choose to move onto other targets as a result of such a price being quoted, their interest is still brilliant news. It proves that they are searching for the right type of player.
Grealish provides an excellent blend of creativity, dribbling ability, ball-carrying, and athleticism. Per FBREF, only Kevin de Bruyne had more shot-creating actions last season. He ranked joint-sixth for expected assists and created 92 chances, the second-most in the division. Then there is his dribbling. His 72 successful dribbles were the highest of all central midfielders and he was the most fouled player in the league by a massive distance. He also carried the ball a progressive distance of 9105 yards, the highest figure in the Premier League and more than 2500 yards more than the next closest central midfielder.
Grealish is precisely the type of player that Arsenal need. Flanking Granit Xhaka or Lucas Torreira and partnering Dani Ceballos, he brings together their respective strengths. He is as creative as Ceballos, has the progression and frame of Xhaka, while possessing the physicality of Torreira. And on top of it all, he carries the ball into dangerous areas, too, something that Arsenal have greatly missed.
Whether Arsenal will or should sign Grealish for the £80 million quoted is certainly up for debate. But what is not up to debate is the type of player he is and how they need precisely that. That they are simply looking for this midfielder is great news, whether he is signed or not.