Jack Grealish’s £100million transfer from Aston Villa to Manchester City should serve as a stark reminder for Leeds United that star players might not be around forever.
Marcelo Bielsa has drastically changed the fortunes of the club in the last three years and has made Leeds a Premier League outfit once more, that has genuine ambitions of battling for Europe in the coming seasons.
It means that priceless assets are no longer flogged off for peanuts to the first bidder, but built around as players to take the Whites forward.
Jack Grealish completed a £100million move to Manchester City recently and it has proven to be a reminder to Leeds and other clubs from the ‘other 14’ that star players have ambitions of their own.
Villa wanted a hefty sum for their best player and boyhood fan, and they got it. While it might set them up for a very exciting summer thanks to spending the money wisely, it still cuts deep to see a cult hero sold to a side that has the clout to tempt him to the Etihad.
Leeds came into the top flight a season after the Villans and adopted a similar approach to promotion, with ambitious signings a real statement of intent, that we aren’t going to stand still and pray for survival.
However, the rise of Kalvin Phillips is something that could end up following a similar story to Grealish’s if Leeds don’t land silverware or the bids come in.
Club CEO Angus Kinnear spoke on the Square Ball podcast regarding this sort of transfer, where he stated:
The reality is that ultimately, and this has been proven by Aston Villa, a hugely ambitious club, really well run, really well backed, but the lure of Champions League and playing for a team that’s going to win trophies turned the player’s head.
I know from Christian [Purslow], Aston Villa’s CEO, that they didn’t have to sell him, even at that value, and they wanted to keep him but when the player wants to go you have a problem.
Our job, which I think Marcelo, Victor and Andrea are fantastic at, is making sure all the players feel wanted and valued and they can grow at Leeds United.
Kalvin is a long-term pillar for the club. We’ll work with him and his representatives to make sure he feels valued and motivated and wants to be at Leeds United. At the moment he’s got three years on his contract, it’s a healthy contract and we don’t need to rush into any of these things. But we defend interest in our players very vigorously in the market place.
There’s a lot of entitlement that you see on Twitter from Top Six fanbases that they can just take any player that they want, and Grealish serves as an example of their pulling power.
However, what his move also highlights is that these players aren’t going to be sold for bargain fees anymore, and if they want to buy them, they’ll have to pay the asking price.
Ben White left Brighton for £50million, and that’s more proof that Leeds are going to be secure financially regardless of any player moving on because we clearly don’t need to sell or we would have done.
As Kinnear reaffirms, these players are here because they feel wanted and are in the best place to be developing their talents.
Our ambition is far beyond being just a Premier League outfit for a sustained period but to climb back to our once strong standing, and that sort of aim is something that will be music to the ears of the stars in the squad who have bought into the project.